Cold Mountain

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The father of Ada Monroe, a talented, charismatic preacher. Monroe seems to be a kindly, if overbearing father, and for many years he is the only man in Ada’s life. While our knowledge of Monroe is strangely limited—he’s available to us only in flashbacks—we learn that he tried to court Ada’s mother, Claire Dechutes, for many years before he finally succeeded in marrying her. Monroe’s death marks the true beginning of Ada’s story in the novel—in the absence of Monroe, Ada must take care of herself.

Monroe Quotes in Cold Mountain

The Cold Mountain quotes below are all either spoken by Monroe or refer to Monroe . 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 6 Quotes

And, as with most things, Monroe had an explanation. He said that in their hearts people feel that long ago God was everywhere all the time; the sense of loneliness is what fills the vacuum when He pulls back one degree more remote.

Related Characters: Monroe
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

Ada, who is newly confident in her ability to control her own farmland (thanks to Ruby's help), experiences a strange crisis of faith here. As she stares out onto her property and onward into the wilderness, she feels a profound sense of loneliness. She remembers her father, Monroe, a preacher, telling her that loneliness is the sense of the absence of God.

Monroe's explanation for Ada's loneliness is both relevant and oddly insufficient. Ada is feeling lonely, but her reasons are far more concrete than Monroe's ideas would suggest. Ada isn't just missing God--she's missing her father, Inman, and her old life. Even so, Monroe's observations suggest that Ada continues to view the world with a mixture of fear and anxiety. Surrounded by Cold Mountain, Ada feels isolated--it's as if she's trapped on the tiny "island" of her own property. Over the course of the novel, Ada will learn to explore the natural world and "find God" there.

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Chapter 8 Quotes

He wished Claire not to marry before her eighteenth birthday. I agreed. Two years seemed not too long to wait, and a fair request on his part. Within a few days he took me home to dinner as his guest. My introduction to your mother was at his hand. I could see in her eyes that she knew me from the night in the yard, but she said not a word of it. I believed from the beginning that my feeling toward her was returned.

Related Characters: Monroe (speaker), Ada Monroe , Claire Dechutes
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Ada remembers everything her father, Monroe, told her about her mother, Claire. As the passage makes clear, Monroe and Claire both grew up in a society in which sex and sexuality were strictly monitored at all times. Women like Claire were policed in their sexual behavior--their fathers forbade them from marrying before a certain age, for instance, and even then only to someone the father approved of. The passage also suggests how romance works in a strictly controlled society like this--Monroe is forced to "guess" whether or not Claire returns his affections, because his interactions with her mostly pass through the mediation of her father.

It's interesting that Ada's only real memories of her mother are likewise mediated by her father. Since Claire died giving birth to Ada, Ada has never had a strong female presence in her own life. The absence of a mother-figure suggests why Ada's coming-of-age arrives so late in her life: without a strong maternal presence to guide her into adulthood, Ada is forced to fend for herself.

The months when we knew you were to come seemed a strange blessing for a pair such as we were: old and marred by the past. When Claire died in childbirth, I could not hardly think that God would be so short with us. I could do little for weeks. Kind neighbors found a wet nurse for you and I took to my bed.

Related Characters: Monroe (speaker), Ada Monroe , Claire Dechutes
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Monroe continues to tell Ada about her mother, Claire. As Monroe explains, Ada's birth was a bittersweet experience, since Claire died in childbirth. In part, Claire died giving birth to Ada because she was a little older than the average mother--Claire had already been involved in a long relationship before she settled down with Monroe.

The passage foreshadows one of the key themes of the novel--the tradeoff between life and death, between happiness and misery. Here, Ada's birth is "balanced out" by Claire's death, much as the birth of Ada's child will be balanced out by Inman's untimely death. A spirit of gloom and sadness hangs over even the happiest moments in Cold Mountain, reflecting the mood of the post-war United States.

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Monroe Character Timeline in Cold Mountain

The timeline below shows where the character Monroe appears in Cold Mountain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: the ground beneath her hands
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
Ada’s father, a preacher named Monroe, died recently. Since that time, she’s been in charge of her father’s farm, but doesn’t... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
We learn a little more about Ada. Ada grew up in Charleston. At Monroe’s insistence, she got an unusually advanced education for a woman. She studied Latin French, and... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
Ada strolls to the chapel on her property. Monroe is buried outside this chapel, and his grave is so new that there isn’t even... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
Ada remembers her father’s funeral. The preacher talked about Monroe’s kindness and wisdom. Afterwards, men buried him in the ground. Sally Swanger, a friend of... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Ada remembers coming to the town of Black Cove six years ago, hoping to cure Monroe of his tuberculosis. Monroe’s doctors in Charleston recommended that they all move out of the... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
When Monroe and Ada first arrived at Black Cove, Monroe made a point of introducing himself to... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
...Ada wakes up late at night, and realizes that the man in the case was Monroe, her own father. (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
The Quest to Return Home Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
...her when she returns to Charleston. She’ll probably have to ingratiate herself with some of Monroe’s old friends—indeed, she’ll probably need to get married soon. Ada finds the prospect of getting... (full context)
Chapter 3: a color of despair
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
The Quest to Return Home Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
Hospitality and Quid Pro Quo Theme Icon
...phrase, “Your soul will fade.” As he talks to himself, Inman remembers a sermon that Monroe delivered years ago, quoting from Emerson: “That which shows God in me, fortifies me.” Monroe... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
...church just to see her. Many of the people in Black Cove made fun of Monroe and Ada because they were out of touch with the town. Ada in particular was... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
Inman continues to think about Monroe. Monroe was fond of saying that he was on a mission in Black Cove: to... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
...day, Inman went to see Sally Swanger, whom he knew to be a friend of Monroe and Ada. Sally agreed to introduce Inman to Ada. A few days later, Inman and... (full context)
Chapter 4: verbs, all of them tiring
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
Hospitality and Quid Pro Quo Theme Icon
As Ada parts with her piano and other possessions, she can’t help but think about Monroe, and the Christmas party he gave four years ago—just before the war began. At this... (full context)
Chapter 6: ashes of roses
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
...sense of loneliness as she makes out the outline of Cold Mountain. She remembers something Monroe told her—the sense of loneliness is really the sense that God has vanished. (full context)
Chapter 8: source and root
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
...that impregnated her, not Stobrod himself. This reminds Ada of her own parents. She remembers Monroe marrying her mother late in life, when Monroe was 45 years old; Ada’s mother was... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
Ada remembers a day shortly before Monroe’s death. She and her father were reading Emerson together. Suddenly, Monroe launched into a story... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
Monroe continued telling Ada about his relationship with Claire. After nearly two years had passed, Monroe... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
Nineteen years after leaving Claire, Monroe returned to the Dechutes home to find that Claire was back—her husband had been a... (full context)
Chapter 10: in place of the truth
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
...Inside, she comes across some of her old clothes, including a dress and a hat Monroe bought her years ago on their trip to Europe. Ada decides that she’ll dress her... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
...hat. Ada remembers Inman presenting her with this photograph. He stopped by one afternoon, while Monroe was reading by the fire. Together, Ada and Inman took a walk by a river,... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
When Ada returned to her home after seeing Inman, she found Monroe, still reading by the fire. Ada tried to distract herself by playing the piano and... (full context)
Chapter 19: the far side of trouble
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Hospitality and Quid Pro Quo Theme Icon
...the mountains. Ada and Inman go hunting together. As they hunt, Ada tells Inman about Monroe’s death, her decision not to return to Charleston, Ruby, etc. As they hunt, they come... (full context)