Cold Mountain

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One of the two protagonists of Cold Mountain, Inman is a young Southern soldier who’s hospitalized after sustaining heavy injuries in the Civil War. Inman, a lifelong resident of the town of Black Cove, decides to walk all the way back home in order to reunite with his love, Ada Monroe, and his journey home takes up the bulk of the novel. Throughout the book, Inman is tempted to give up on his quest—tempted with offers of sex, companionship, food, and money. But on each occasion, Inman proves his resolve by continuing on the road home, even when he’s shot and nearly killed. Inman suffers from the trauma of war, and throughout the book has vivid nightmares and flashbacks to his time at Petersburg and Fredericksburg. In a way, his greatest challenge is moving past this trauma, rather than moving back to Black Cove. In the end, it seems that Inman is ready to put aside his past and start a new life with Ada—a life that’s tragically cut short when Inman is murdered by disgruntled Southern soldiers.

Inman Quotes in Cold Mountain

The Cold Mountain quotes below are all either spoken by Inman or refer to Inman . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Grove Press edition of Cold Mountain published in 2006.
Chapter 1 Quotes

He handed it to Inman and said, Come on, cite me one instance where you wished you were blind.
Where to begin? Inman wondered. Malvern Hill. Sharpsburg. Petersburg. Any would do admirably as example of unwelcome visions.

Related Characters: The Blind Man (speaker), Inman
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Inman--one of the two protagonists of the novel--thinks back on his experiences in the Civil War. He's speaking to an old blind man whom he meets while he's far away from his home. The blind man asks Inman to name a time when he wished he were blind--i.e., a time when he witnessed things that he wishes he could forget.

The passage is important because it establishes the theme of trauma. Inman isn't just trying to journey back to his hometown; he's also trying to rid himself of his own guilt and anxiety at having lived through the bloodiest war in American history. The passage is also interesting insofar as it alludes to Homer's Odyssey, one of the key inspirations for Cold Mountain. The presence of the old blind man at the start of the tale might allude to Homer, the legendary blind poet who arranged and wrote the Odyssey

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But what Inman did not tell the blind man was that no matter how he tried, the field that night would not leave him but had instead provided him with a recurring dream, one that had visited him over and over during his time in the hospital. In the dream, the aurora blazed and the scattered bloody pieces—arms, heads, legs, trunks—slowly drew together and reformed themselves into monstrous bodies of mismatched parts. They limped and reeled and lunged about the dark battlefield like blind sots on their faulty legs.

Related Characters: Inman , The Blind Man
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

Here we're given a window into Inman's inner life, as he experiences a recurring nightmare. In the nightmare, Inman is back on the battlefield during the Civil War. While Inman's experiences were frightening and traumatizing enough by themselves, they become even more so in his dreams; the dead bodies that Inman saw on the battlefield seem to come back to life, menacing Inman and seeming to draw him toward death.

Throughout the novel, the Civil War itself is practically a "character"--a powerful, almost indomitable force that pains Inman and prevents him from returning to Cold Mountain alive and well. One could say that the Civil War symbolizes the specter of death itself. Inman has survived his military service, and yet death still seems to haunt him and call out to him.

Chapter 3 Quotes

As Inman walked, he thought of a spell Swimmer had taught him, one of particular potency. It was called To Destroy Life, and the words of it formed themselves over and over in his mind. Swimmer had said that it only worked in Cherokee, not in English, and that there was no consequence in teaching it to Inman. But Inman thought all words had some issue, so he walked and said the spell, aiming it out against the world at large, all his enemies. He repeated it over and over to himself as some people, in fear or hope, will say a single prayer endlessly until it burns itself in their thoughts so that they can work or even carry on a conversation with it still running unimpeded…

Related Characters: Inman , Swimmer
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Inman recalls a childhood friend, Swimmer, who taught Inman a Cherokee spell to annihilate life. Swimmer, a Cherokee himself, seemed not to understand the seriousness of his own incantation (or at least assumed that saying it in English robbed it of power). And yet now that Inman is a fully-grown man, he takes Swimmer's spell very seriously--indeed, he repeats the spell over and over again.

Inman's decision to repeat Swimmer's spell reflects his traumatic experience in the Civil War. Inman's experiences in battle have been so vivid and frightening that they've left his faith in humanity and life itself shaken. Surrounded by violence and death, Inman has come to question the value of life. As the novel goes on, Inman will have to choose between embracing life and embracing violence and bloodshed. As we can see in this passage, Inman seems to have adopted a dark, nihilistic worldview, in which everything is his enemy and he could find solace in destruction.

Chapter 5 Quotes

—Listen to me, Laura, he said. That preacher does not speak for God. No man does. Go back to sleep and wake up in the morning with me just a strong dream urging you to put him behind you. He means you no good. Set your mind on it.

Related Characters: Inman (speaker), Solomon Veasey , Laura
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Inman encounters a corrupt priest, Solomon, who has kidnapped a girl, Laura, whom he'd previously impregnated. Fearing that Laura's life is in danger, Inman fights Solomon and brings Laura back to her home. After Inman returns Laura home, he gives her some advice--don't trust Solomon, or any other man who claims to speak on behalf of God.

Inman's advice to Laura is important for a number of reasons. First, it reflects his disillusionment with the institutions of antebellum America--the same institutions that have sent him to fight in the Civil War and be gravely wounded. Following his time in battle, Inman has learned to distrust authority of any kind, as trusting authority is what sent him to the hospital in the first place. Moreover, Inman's advice to Laura reflects the informal code of right and wrong that he's slowly developing. Inman doesn't trust priests or politicians, but he's no nihilist. On the contrary, he continues to protect those like Laura who are too weak to defend themselves. So in spite of the trauma he's endured during battle, Inman continues to fight for what he knows to be right.

Inman had dealt with gypsies before and thought them possessed of a fine honesty in their predatory relationship to the rest of mankind, their bald admission of constantly seeking an opening. But they were benign-seeming in this quiet bend of the river. It was no concern of theirs how the war concluded. Whichever side won, people would still need horses. The contest was no more to them than a temporary hindrance to business.

Related Characters: Inman
Page Number: 97-98
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Inman crosses paths with a group of traveling gypsies. (For the purposes of consistency with the novel, we'll continue to use the word "gypsy," though it's unclear whether they're actually Roma.) The gypsies, we're told, are friendly--they even give Inman food and shelter--and pose no threat whatsoever to Inman's safety. Inman is fascinated by the gypsies, precisely because they have no allegiance to either side in the Civil War; they'll sell their products to whomever wants to purchase them.

Inman--still reeling from the devastation he's witnessed during the Civil War--envies the gypsies for their freedom from the draft and from the violence of war. At other times in history, the gypsies' lifestyle might seem derelict and unenviable--in the midst of a bloody war, however, it's liberating.

Chapter 7 Quotes

He made a motion as if to backhand the preacher, but the man did not run or fight or even try to raise his staff to parry. Rather, he hunched his shoulders to take the blow like a cowed dog, and so Inman pulled up and did not strike. He reasoned that lacking the will to drive the man off, he'd just walk on and see what came about.

Related Characters: Inman , Solomon Veasey
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Inman takes pity on Solomon--the corrupt priest who'd made off with Laura, the young girl he'd impregnated. Although Inman clearly despises Solomon, he doesn't strike him, and he doesn't yell at Solomon when Solomon tries to follow him.

It's worth wondering why Inman behaves so passively when confronted with Solomon's presence. First, the fact that Inman refrains from hitting Solomon suggests that he continues to abide by a strong personal code of right and wrong, even after enduring the trauma of the Civil War. Moreover, the fact that Inman doesn't protest when Solomon tries to follow him along the road suggests that Inman--in spite of what he says--might secretly be desperate for human companionship. After months of isolation in a hospital, Inman will take whatever he can get, even if he has to team up with a corrupt priest.

When Odell finished talking he was drunk and sat blotting at his eyes with his shirt cuff.
—It's a feverish world, Inman said, for lack of better comment.

Related Characters: Inman (speaker), Odell
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Inman meets a strange man, Odell, who claims to be the owner of a vast fortune, based in land holdings, which the Civil War prevents him from enjoying. Odell complains about the agony he's endured over the course of a lifetime--he's been forbidden from marrying the woman he loves, a slave. Inman can think of nothing to tell Odell, other than to agree that the world is a strange, "feverish" place.

In the traumatic aftermath of the Civil War, Frazier suggests, the only real "bond" between Americans was the mutual recognition of the war's devastation. Inman and Odell don't necessarily share common beliefs or a common religion, but they're united in their disgust with the brutality of the war itself. And Inman's choice of adjective--"feverish"--is interesting: with it Frazier suggests the surrealism and nightmarish qualities of postwar life, in which Inman and the other characters encounter a variety of bizarre characters and situations.

Chapter 9 Quotes

—Come eat supper with us, the man said. And we've a hayloft that's good for sleeping.
—Only if you'll take that saw off our hands, Inman said to the man.
—I expect two dollars federal. Fifty in state scrip, Veasey said, perking up.
—Take it on, Inman said. No fee.

Related Characters: Inman (speaker), Solomon Veasey (speaker), Junior (speaker)
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Frazier shows us the informal system of bartering that holds together American Southern society during the Civil War. Inman and Solomon help a stranger, Junior, move a heavy load. In return, Junior offers to let Inman and Solomon stay at his house--and Inman completes the transaction by giving Junior a valuable saw he's obtained during his travels. While Veasey selfishly wants to profit from the exchange by bringing paper money into the matter, Inman "correctly" allows Junior to keep the saw without any further payment--they're "square."

In the absence of reliable currency or a reliable system of government, the rules of bartering and trade were of vital importance to the United States (particularly in the South). Throughout the novel, Inman must trade his possessions for food and shelter, and this scene is no exception. Furthermore, notice that Inman's status as an honorable man--a worthy protagonist for the novel--is confirmed in the instant that he performs a fair transaction (the saw in exchange for shelter). By the same token, Solomon's status as a corrupt character is confirmed when he selfishly tries to make extra money from the trade. By and large, the "good" characters in the novel are those who abide by the rules of hospitality and quid pro quo.

Junior raised up his face and looked at him but seemed not to recognize him. Inman stepped to Junior and struck him across the ear with the barrel of the LeMat's and then clubbed at him with the butt until he lay flat on his back. There was no movement out of him but for the bright flow of blood which ran from his nose and cuts to his head and the corners of his eyes.

Related Characters: Inman , Junior
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:

Inman has been ambushed by the Home Guard, and it's revealed that they were in cahoots with Junior, the man who offered Inman a place to sleep at night. The Home Guard tries to kill Inman, but Inman manages to escape. To avenge his near-death, Inman returns to Junior's property and beats Junior over the head with his rifle, perhaps killing him.

Does Inman do the "right" thing here? Junior has violated the most basic code of Southern society at the time--the code of hospitality. There's an unwritten law that a host must offer lodgings to travelers in need, provided that the traveler can provide some kind of service or trade in exchange (Inman gave Junior a saw, sealing the transaction). By violating the terms of their deal (i.e., turning Inman over to the Home Guard) Junior proves himself to be a villain, below all contempt or sympathy.

Whether or not one agrees that Junior "deserves" his beating, it's important to note that Inman seems to be giving in to his desire for blood and violence. Long months of serving in the Civil War have left Inman deeply scarred and with a mind still full of violence--and he gives in to this violence when avenging Junior's crimes.

Chapter 10 Quotes

—Here is far enough, she said. Go on back. As you said, I'll see you when I see you.
—But I hope that's soon.
—We both do, then.

Related Characters: Inman (speaker), Ada Monroe (speaker)
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Inman says goodbye to Ada Monroe, with whom Inman has struck up an intimate romance. Inman is about to ship off to fight in the Civil War, and he's unsure if he'll ever see Ada again. Inman's final interaction with Ada before he leaves is poignantly understated--the two lovers agree that they wish to see one another very soon.

It's interesting to recognize that while Inman is traveling back to Cold Mountain in large part to reunite with Ada, it's not clear that he's doing so until now--about halfway through the book. Because of Frazier's careful structuring, readers get the sense that Ada and Inman are gradually "remembering" their love for one another--they're slowly emerging from the haze of war and depression to reunite. Furthermore, the understated tone of the passage suggests that Inman and Ada's love is far from over--indeed, it's not until they're separated from one another that their passion for each other truly begins to flourish.

Chapter 11 Quotes

—What is it you do in those books? Inman said.
—I make a record, the woman said. Draw pictures and write.
—About what?
—Everything. The goats. Plants. Weather. I keep track of what everything's up to. It can take up all your time just marking down what happens. Miss a day and you get behind and might never catch back up.
—How did you learn to write and read and draw? Inman asked.
—Same way you did. Somebody taught me.

Related Characters: Inman (speaker), The Old Woman (speaker)
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:

In this strange scene, Inman is taken in by an old woman who spends all day taking care of goats. The woman is a hermit--she lives alone, and seemingly relishes her aloneness, spending all her time writing and drawing.

Frazier portrays the Old Woman with a mixture of admiration and subtle pity. The woman claims to be entirely self-sufficient, saying she doesn't really need human company at all. There is something both awe-inspiring and pathetic in the way that she spends all her time recording her experiences; one could say that the old woman is trapped in an "eternal present," living from day to day.

In short, the old woman represents the kind of life that Inman--still traumatized by his experiences in battle--is tempted to embrace. Perhaps it's possible to be happy on one's own, far from one's home and the troubles of human society. (It's worth noting that the old woman seems to be based on Calypso from Homer's Odyssey--i.e., the woman who tempted Odysseus to live in an "eternal present" and abandon his quest to return home.) And yet Frazier subtly implies that the kind of lifestyle the old woman celebrates--the life of a hermit--is never entirely possible. "Somebody" taught the old woman how to read, and she seems to need the occasional company of travelers like Inman; in other words, true self-sufficiency is just a pipe dream.

Chapter 13 Quotes

—If I was to ask you to do something, would you do it?
Inman considered that he should frame an answer here on the order of Maybe, or If I can, or some like provisional phrase.
What he said was, Yes.
—If I was to ask you to come over here and lay in bed with me but not do a thing else, could you do it?
Inman looked at her there and wondered what she saw looking back. Some dread shape filling the clothes of her husband?

Related Characters: Inman (speaker), Sara (speaker)
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Inman finds shelter in the home of a young woman named Sara. Sara has a child, but her husband--the father of the child--has been killed in the Civil War. Sara is clearly lonely and attracted to Inman, but she's also still loyal to her husband and his memory. So Sara asks Inman to lie next to her in bed. As Inman correctly guesses, Sara is trying to use Inman to "channel" a sense of her own deceased husband, whom she still loves.

It's important to notice that Inman is reluctant to play the part of a dead man--and yet he agrees to help Sara without any protest ("Yes"). When confronted with another person's trauma and grief, Inman--who has plenty of trauma and grief of his own--immediately tries to help. In general, the passage evokes the (possibly futile) ways that humans try to cope with their own sadness. Sara's request to Inman might seem bizarre, but it's the best way for her to regain some contact with a man she continues to love.

Chapter 18 Quotes

He would come walking up the road into Black Cove, and he would be weary looking. What he had been through would show in his face and in his frame, but only so much as to suggest heroism. He would be bathed and in a clean suit. Ada would step out the door onto the porch without knowing he was coming, just going about her doings. She would be dressed in her fine clothes. She would see him and know him in every feature. She would run to him, lifting her skirts above her ankle boots as she came down the steps.

Related Characters: Inman , Ada Monroe
Page Number: 312
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Inman imagines how his reunion with Ada might play out: perhaps he'll get a chance to bathe and wear a suit, and perhaps the sight of Inman will delight Ada to the point where she'll rush down to greet him and embrace him.

As we'll see very soon, Inman's actual reunion with Ada will be very different from the one he's imagining. And yet it's important to consider the importance of Inman's "reunion fantasy." Inman has traveled hundreds of miles by foot, just so that he can see Ada once again. Throughout his journey, his reunion fantasy has been a beacon of hope, inspiring him to keep moving forward, even when his chances of ever seeing Ada again seem pretty hopeless. In short, Inman has decided to overcome his trauma by reuniting with Ada. His idea of how the reunion will play out might not be realistic, but it provides the spiritual nourishment he needs.

Chapter 19 Quotes

—I'm ruined beyond repair, is what I fear, he said. And if so, in time we'd both be wretched and bitter.

Related Characters: Inman (speaker), Ada Monroe
Page Number: 333
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Inman lays bare his deepest fear to Ada: the Civil War has destroyed him, turning him into a violent, nihilistic wreck. Inman fears that he’ll spend the rest of his life reliving the horrors of the battlefield. It’s only in this moment that we fully recognize the scope of Inman’s quest to return to his childhood home in Cold Mountain. With his life and body in ruins, Inman turns to the last place where he can remember being happy—Cold Mountain—in the hopes that he’ll be able to “turn back the clock” to a time before he was "ruined beyond repair."

By the same token, Inman has also returned to Cold Mountain in the desperate hope that Ada will be able to help him through his troubles. Inman fears that he’ll marry Ada, but then poison her with his trauma and “bitterness.” Nevertheless, Inman looks to Ada—desperately, and maybe even a little selfishly—as a relief for his pain.

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Inman Character Timeline in Cold Mountain

The timeline below shows where the character Inman appears in Cold Mountain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: the shadow of a crow
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
It’s early morning. A man named Inman wakes up to find himself in the hospital, surrounded by grotesquely buzzing flies. Inman stares... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Inman has been in the hospital for three weeks. His first week was hot and painful,... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
The Quest to Return Home Theme Icon
As the morning passes, Inman becomes conscious of the man sitting next to him in the hospital—a man who needs... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Inman thinks about how he ended up in the hospital. He was fighting in “the war”... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
The Quest to Return Home Theme Icon
Inman had several wounds, the worst of which was a deep neck injury. After a few... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
The Quest to Return Home Theme Icon
As he eats breakfast, Inman sees an old man walking down the road. He’s hunched over, and uses a cane... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Inman thinks about all the ways he could answer the blind man’s question, remembering the battles... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
By the end of the first morning of fighting, Inman and his peers were caked in dust, dirt, and gunpowder. A fellow soldier of Inman’s... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
In the late afternoon in Fredericksburg, there were dead Federals everywhere. Some of Inman’s peers stole the dead soldiers’ boots. In the nighttime, Inman witnessed his peers killing wounded... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
The blind man listens as Inman explains all this. He tells Inman to forget what he’s seen at Fredericksburg, and Inman... (full context)
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
The Quest to Return Home Theme Icon
Inman returns to the hospital. He sees Balis working at his Greek translations. Inman passes the... (full context)
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
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Inman receives money from “home.” He uses his money to buy clothes and other items in... (full context)
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Inman reads the paper, and learns that at Petersburg, Cherokee warriors working with the Southern army... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Inman learned that Swimmer was an intelligent, knowledgeable explorer and navigator. Swimmer also told Inman about... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
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Inman looks at the coffee grounds swirling in his cup and remembers an old method of... (full context)
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Inman writes a letter (we’re not yet told to whom). In the letter, he describes his... (full context)
Chapter 3: a color of despair
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Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
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Inman stands on the road, staring out into the distance. He’s been traveling for a few... (full context)
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
The Quest to Return Home Theme Icon
Hospitality and Quid Pro Quo Theme Icon
It’s still early in the day, but as time goes on, Inman gets hot and dizzy. The insects buzz around him. In the distance, Inman can see... (full context)
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Hospitality and Quid Pro Quo Theme Icon
The two men Inman noticed on the porch stand up and approach him (Inman notices that the man with... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
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The Quest to Return Home Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
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Inman walks out of the town, still carrying his supplies. He remembers a spell that Swimmer... (full context)
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Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
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Inman remembers falling in love with Ada. He began attending church just to see her. Many... (full context)
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Inman continues to think about Monroe. Monroe was fond of saying that he was on a... (full context)
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The next day, Inman went to see Sally Swanger, whom he knew to be a friend of Monroe and... (full context)
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Inman remembers more of his meeting with Ada. Ada teased him for being shy and silent,... (full context)
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Back in the present day, Inman walks along the road, noticing the tall trees and plants in the surrounding forest. He... (full context)
The Quest to Return Home Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
Inman comes to a river, next to which there’s a sign for a ferry. A young... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
The Quest to Return Home Theme Icon
Inman then notices the three men he attacked standing on the shore, pointing their gun at... (full context)
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Eventually, Inman and the young woman reach the shore. Inman pays the woman for her trouble, including... (full context)
Chapter 4: verbs, all of them tiring
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
...little too much to drink. Sally Swanger, also drunk, told Ada that she should marry Inman as soon as she could. Ada was embarrassed by this suggestion. But when she got... (full context)
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Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
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Hospitality and Quid Pro Quo Theme Icon
As Ada remembers her experienced with Inman, she looks through the basement of her house, searching for coffee. She and Ruby drink... (full context)
Chapter 5: like any other thing, a gift
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
Inman walks along the Deep River. He’s afraid that he’ll run into the Home Guard, a... (full context)
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Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
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Inman draws his pistol, rushes toward the man, and orders him to set the woman down... (full context)
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Inman walks with the priest, the woman, and the horse. It’s late at night, and Inman... (full context)
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When they’re close to the girl’s house, Inman takes a handkerchief and stuffs it in the priest’s mouth, gagging him. While the priest... (full context)
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Inman walks outside, where the priest is still tied up. Inman writes a long letter explaining... (full context)
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Inman eats the cornbread and pork, and then sleeps under the stars. When he wakes up,... (full context)
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In the afternoon, Inman walks through town and comes upon a young woman, riding a horse. The woman is... (full context)
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As dusk falls, Inman sees gypsy children playing near the riverbank. He also comes across a carnival show nearby,... (full context)
The Quest to Return Home Theme Icon
After the meal, the carnival performers tell Inman about their time spent traveling the country. They claim that the road is its own... (full context)
The Quest to Return Home Theme Icon
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Late at night, Inman finds that he can’t sleep. He opens his book and reads about adventurers traveling through... (full context)
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The next morning, Inman wakes up early. He begins walking back toward his home, invigorated by his evening, and... (full context)
Chapter 7: exile and brute wandering
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Inman walks through forests, by rivers, and through fields. The weather is pleasant, and he meets... (full context)
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Inman continues walking along the road. After a time, he crosses paths with none other than... (full context)
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Veasey babbles to Inman about starting a new life out West. He claims he’s headed to Texas to be... (full context)
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In the evening, Inman tells Veasey about his experiences in Petersburg. He remembers fighting beside the troops from South... (full context)
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The next day, Veasey and Inman arrive at a small country shop to buy food. Veasey immediately draws his weapon and... (full context)
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Inman and Veasey continue walking down the road, Veasey rubbing his head where Inman struck him.... (full context)
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Since Veasey has just left the building to have sex with Tildy, Inman is by himself. He decides to spend the night in the inn, paying about five... (full context)
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Odell continues telling Inman about his life. He grew up on a plantation, and studied to take over the... (full context)
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Odell finishes his tale, and Inman is so overcome that he says, “It’s a feverish world.” The next morning, Inman and... (full context)
Chapter 9: to live like a gamecock
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Inman and Veasey arrive at a woodcutters’ clearing. There’s a huge tree lying in the middle... (full context)
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...standing before a dead bull in a stream. The man cries out for help, and Inman and Veasey walk off the road to help him (Veasey leaves the saw by the... (full context)
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...to be done with their work. The man introduces himself as Junior, and he “entertains” Inman and Veasey with stories of having had sex with married women years ago. He tells... (full context)
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Junior takes Inman and Veasey to his house, where he offers them food and coffee. At dinner, Junior’s... (full context)
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Lila goes outside, and Inman follows her. He sees Lila greeting her sisters, who look almost identical to her. Inman... (full context)
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Junior stands over Inman and Lila, pointing a gun right at Inman’s head. He marches Inman outside, where Inman... (full context)
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For the next few days, Inman walks with the horsemen, not knowing where he’s headed. Slowly, other prisoners join then—other suspected... (full context)
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When Inman regains consciousness, he finds himself staring at a huge wild boar. Inman climbs to his... (full context)
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After hours of walking, Inman comes to a “yellow” slave, who is herding some bulls down the road. The slave... (full context)
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The chapter cuts ahead a few nights: Inman is standing outside Junior’s house, preparing to sneak inside. He throws a bone to a... (full context)
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The next day, Inman is still walking along the road, away from Junior. He sees a flock of crows... (full context)
Chapter 10: in place of the truth
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In the evening, Ada looks at the letter that she’s received from Inman. She has no idea how old the letter is—it could be a few weeks old,... (full context)
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Ada continues remembering her walk with Inman. Inman told her a story about an old Cherokee woman whom Inman met as a... (full context)
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When Inman told Ada this story, Ada was unsure how to react—she had no idea what it... (full context)
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When Ada returned to her home after seeing Inman, she found Monroe, still reading by the fire. Ada tried to distract herself by playing... (full context)
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The next day, Ada woke up and went to visit Inman one more time before he left. She found him in his house, polishing his boots.... (full context)
Chapter 11: the doing of it
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Inman follows the slave’s directions toward the Blue Ridge mountains. He takes safe roads and sleeps... (full context)
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Every day, Inman gets farther and farther from civilization. Eventually, he’s walking through an area where the only... (full context)
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The old woman takes Inman to her home, which is nearby. On the walk to her home, the woman points... (full context)
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Inman and the old woman sit down to dinner. The woman asks Inman if he’s come... (full context)
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It’s now Inman’s turn to tell the old woman about himself. He tells the woman about his neck... (full context)
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The old woman gives Inman a strange ball, made of herbs, and tells him to swallow it. Inman does so.... (full context)
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The old woman shows Inman her papers—she writes and draws pictures all day long. She claims that she’s almost never... (full context)
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The old woman walks into the house and greets Inman. Inman tells the woman that he needs to be going soon. The woman nods, and... (full context)
Chapter 13: bride bed full of blood
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Inman walks through the mountains, trying to find his course back home. It rains heavily, making... (full context)
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One day Inman sees a man walking behind him through the mountains. Inman demands to know who the... (full context)
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Potts and Inman walk to the house, and Inman walks inside. He introduces himself to the woman inside... (full context)
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Inman eats the meal Sara fixes for him. At dinner, he watches Sara nurse her baby,... (full context)
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Sara offers Inman a bed in the house, and when she shows Inman the bed, he realizes that... (full context)
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As Sara weeps next to Inman, she begins to stroke Inman’s body. She touches his scar but then pulls her hand... (full context)
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Late at night, Inman wakes up—Sara is shaking him. Sara whispers that someone’s outside, possibly the Home Guard or... (full context)
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Instead of returning to Sara, Inman decides to follow the three horsemen. He follows them on foot for several miles, until... (full context)
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Inman leads Sara’s hog back to its home, where he finds Sara going through her usual... (full context)
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...a lyric in the song about a “bride bed full of blood.” The next day, Inman sets out on the road. (full context)
Chapter 15: a vow to bear
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Inman walks through the mountains, stopping only rarely. He stops to help a weeping woman, whose... (full context)
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Inman continues walking, often sleeping in abandoned buildings. One day, he passes by two skeletons dangling... (full context)
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A few days later, Inman camps out near the edge of a cliff. He wakes up at dawn to the... (full context)
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The bear seems to be approaching Inman, and suddenly it charges. Inman is able to dodge the bear’s attack, and the bear’s... (full context)
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Inman proceeds with his journey. He can sense that he’s very close to home. One day,... (full context)
Chapter 18: footsteps in the snow
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Inman draws closer to Cold Mountain every day. In the high altitude, it snows heavily. One... (full context)
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The next day, Inman arrives on the outskirts of Black Cove. He has taken some time to make himself... (full context)
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Inman sets off for Ada. He imagines how his reunion with Ada might play out. He... (full context)
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Inman hears a gunshot in the distance. He draws his own weapon and moves toward the... (full context)
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There’s a long pause, in which Ada stares deep into Inman’s eyes. Inman turns slightly, as if to move away. Somehow, when Inman turns his head,... (full context)
Chapter 19: the far side of trouble
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Ruby, Inman, and Ada are inside a tiny cabin in the mountains, taking care of Stobrod. As... (full context)
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Hours later, Inman wakes up to find himself in a warm cabin, in which a fire has been... (full context)
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Afterwards, Inman walks outside, where he finds Ada walking around in the “yellow light.” Ada touches Inman’s... (full context)
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Inman shows Ada the book, by Bartram, which he’s carried with him throughout his journey. He... (full context)
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...cabin: Stobrod snores heavily, keeping the other three people awake. Ada stays up, thinking about Inman, who looks old and wizened. Inman isn’t the man she knew before the war—but neither... (full context)
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The next morning it continues to snow in the mountains. Ada and Inman go hunting together. As they hunt, Ada tells Inman about Monroe’s death, her decision not... (full context)
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Ada and Inman rejoin Ruby and Stobrod, having failed to catch anything. Stobrod, conscious again, asks who Inman... (full context)
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Ada finds Inman lying in bed with his shirt off. As if in a trance, she begins removing... (full context)
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The chapter cuts ahead an hour—Ada and Inman lie in bed together. They talk through the night. Inman talks about his childhood, for... (full context)
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Inman and Ada continue talking. They plan to get married, and to order books about art,... (full context)
Chapter 20: spirits of crows, dancing
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The next morning, Ada and Inman are still lying in bed together. They’re forming a plan. The war will be over... (full context)
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...recover. His wounds shrink, and he’s able to eat solid food again. Ruby, Ada, and Inman prepare to return to the farm: Stobrod is finally healthy enough to be carried down... (full context)
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Ada and Ruby head down through the mountains, with Inman and Stobrod taking a different route, heading north. When Inman and Stobrod are nearly out... (full context)
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Suddenly, Inman slaps Ralph (the horse), and Ralph—bearing Stobrod—charges away from the Home Guard, into the woods.... (full context)
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Inman looks up and sees the third horseman, Birch, riding away into the forest. Inman takes... (full context)
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Instead of obeying Inman, Birch tries to bolt away on his horse. Almost immediately, the horse gets tangled in... (full context)
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Ada looks through the woods, and eventually comes to Inman, lying on the ground. Ada allows Inman to rest his head in her lap. The... (full context)