Episodic novel, with a journey structure; romance

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.


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.


Immediate past


1864, near the end of the Civil War (the novel refers to events that directy preceded the war and others that occurred decades before), in Virginia, before Inman journeys west to North Carolina. Half of the novel is set in the town of Cold Mountain where Ada lives.


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.

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.


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.