But what the wisdom of the ages says is that we do well not to grieve on and on. And those old ones knew a thing or two and had some truth to tell. . . . You’re left with only your scars to mark the void. All you can choose to do is go on or not. But if you go on, it’s knowing you carry your scars with you.

This passage comes from the chapter “the far side of trouble,” when Inman and Ada have been reunited and are hiding out with Ruby and the injured Stobrod at the old “Indian” village. In it, we see a return to the idea of wasted time and of the soul deadened by the evil it has witnessed. Inman admits to feeling ravaged by the war but suggests that his only choice is to move forward in life and to hope to distance himself from its barbarity. Inman recognizes that he has been marked by events but hopes that time will bring a measure of respite. Inman concludes that the most important thing that suffering people can do is to accept the changes they see in themselves, acknowledge the voids within them, and forge ahead. Inman’s reference to “those old ones” signifies his identification with the spiritual wisdom of older cultures, particularly the Cherokee.