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Cold Mountain

Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

full title  · Cold Mountain

author  · Charles Frazier

type of work  · Novel

genre  · Episodic novel, with a journey structure; romance

language  · English, with inclusion of nineteenth-century Southern dialects

time and place written  · 1997, North Carolina, U.S.

date of first publication  · 1997

publisher  · Grove/Atlantic

narrator  · Third-person narration, usually according with the perspective of the characters leading the action.

point of view  · The novel generally sticks with the protagonists’ (Ada’s and Inman’s) points of view, occasionally shifting to the perspective of other characters.

tone  · Sometimes subdued and reserved, as the characters explore their feelings; often meditative and questioning, as Inman struggles with broader moral or spiritual concerns; occasionally lightly humorous to match characters’ good-natured wit.

tense  · Immediate past

setting (time)  · 1864, near the end of the Civil War; the novel refers to events that directy preceded the war and others that occurred decades before.

setting (place)  · Virginia, before Inman journeys west to North Carolina. Half of the novel is set in the town of Cold Mountain where Ada lives.

protagonist  · The male protagonist is Inman; the female protagonist, Ada.

major conflict  · Both Ada and Inman struggle against the various circumstances—geographical, emotional—that separate them.

rising action  · Inman flees prison and begins journeying toward Cold Mountain; simultaneously, Ada becomes friends with Ruby and learns to survive on her own.

climax  · The major climax occurs when Inman has been shot by Birch, has a vision of dancing crows, and dies in Ada’s arms. This event is foreshadowed by Inman’s resurrection in “to live like a gamecock” where Inman is buried in a shallow grave and dreams of becoming a crow.

falling action  · Ruby marries Reid. Ada is living at Black Cove with Ruby’s family and her nine year-old daughter, presumably by Inman.

themes  · Isolation in the search for meaning; knowledge and intuition

motifs  · Seasonal changes and rotations; the past

symbols  · The crow; forked roads and crossings; dark-haired women

foreshadowing  · Many natural events in the novel seem to foreshadow human events; the appearance of the crow often presages death. Inman survives being shot and buried by one team of Home Guard, only to be killed by another set of martial vigilantes.