Cold Mountain

Main Ideas

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.