Essay on Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain

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Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain


In Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier describes the epic journey home of wounded Confederate soldier Inman from Petersburg to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Inman’s physical voyage home is paralleled by the mental journey made by his sweetheart, Ada, in her transformation from ‘city girl’ into ‘mountain woman’. The story is woven around the experiences of Inman and Ada trying to rebuild their lives from the desperation and disaster of the war, all the while trying to find a way to see each other again--whilst they are so far apart. It also blends the horrors of war into their current lives, and the corruption that has scarred them forever. Inman and Ada’s respective ordeals help develop the themes of war
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There is a deep irony that Frazier chooses to kill his hero at the conclusion of his journey, after surviving so many great dangers, and yet he must die for he “had seen so many men shot in recent years that it seemed as normal to be shot as not.” Inman’s death leaves the impression that the war left him irreconcilable with his homeland, if not with himself.

Inman has an enormously strong sense of pining for his home place: “After a time, though, Inman found that he had left the book and was simply performing topography of his home in his head. Cold Mountain, all its ridges and coves and watercourses, Pigeon River, Little East Falls, Sorrell Coves, Deep Gap, Five Scald Ridge. He knew their names and said them to himself like the words of like the words and spells of incantations to ward off the things one fears about most.” Inman’s idealization of his homeland is clear in this passage. However, given his experiences, while that home place may retain its physical beauty, it cannot ever remain in its idealized form. What one fears about most is his removal from the world either from death or by becoming an outsider which Inman became a victim of: “She thought that Inman had been alone too long, an outlier.” In the traditional masculine role of household management, Frazier has categorically illustrated that Inman is not required. The women, Ada and Ruby, are entirely self-sufficient, and his role has been relegated to that of merely a begetter of…