Cold Mountain

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Ruby Thewes is Ada Monroe’s opposite in almost every way: she has a poor relationship with her father, Stobrod Thewes; she’s been taking care of herself since she was a little girl; she’s fiercely independent, etc. After the destruction of the Civil War, it is Ruby’s way of living, not Ada’s, that perseveres in Black Cove. As a result, Ada depends on Ruby to learn how to farm and plow—without Ruby, Ada would starve to death. In part, Ruby agrees to help Ada because she’s getting a great deal: she gets half a farm for herself. But as time goes on, it becomes clear that Ruby is Ada’s friend and loyal ally. In the novel’s Epilogue, we learn that Ruby is still living with Ada ten years later, and has three children with Reid.

Ruby Thewes Quotes in Cold Mountain

The Cold Mountain quotes below are all either spoken by Ruby Thewes or refer to Ruby Thewes . 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 4 Quotes

After Ada made her decision known, Ruby wasted no time. She knew who had excess animals and produce, who would be willing to trade favorably. In this case it was Old Jones up on East Fork she dealt with. His wife had coveted the piano for some time, and knowing that, Ruby traded hard. Jones was finally made to give for it a pied brood sow and a shoat and a hundred pounds of corn grits.

Related Characters: Ada Monroe , Ruby Thewes
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Ada joins forces with Ruby, a young woman who's vastly experienced in farming and living independently. In this passage, Ruby shows Ada how to survive on her farmland--the two women trade Ada's "useless" possessions, such as her piano, for useful items like corn grits and animals.

The passage illustrates the vast, informal economy that flourished in the United States during the Civil War. Without a reliable system of currency, people exchanged goods for other goods--a pig for a piano, etc. Frazier also suggests that Ada is turning a corner, abandoning the time in her life when she had the luxury of indulging in "useless" pleasures like piano music. From now on, she'll have to be practical, spending all her time and energy surviving and keeping up her property.

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Looking back on her life so far, she listed as achievements the fact that by the age of ten, she knew all features of the mountains for twenty-five miles in any direction as intimately as a gardener would his bean rows. And that later, when yet barely a woman, she had whipped men single-handed in encounters she did not wish to detail.

Related Characters: Ruby Thewes
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Frazier introduces us to Ruby Thewes, one of the novel's key characters. Ruby is a young woman, but she's vastly experienced with farming, fighting, and generally surviving. While Ada may be older than Ruby, her life has been characterized by luxuries like travel and music--unlike Ruby, Ada knows nothing about taking care of herself.

Ruby is a key character in the novel because she embodies the changing gender norms that accompanied the Civil War. In the antebellum period, many women were in a position to do no work. However, following the beginning of the Civil War--and the rapid depletion of the male workforce--women discovered that they had no choice but to do the work that had previously been reserved for men (farming, planting, etc.). Historians have argued that women's growing role in farming and manufacturing during the Civil War paved the way for the rise of the feminist movement in the U.S. in the late 19th century. By the same token, Ada's increased involvement in the care of her own property paves the way for her growth from a timid, childish individual into a strong, confident woman. 

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Ruby Thewes Character Timeline in Cold Mountain

The timeline below shows where the character Ruby Thewes appears in Cold Mountain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: the ground beneath her hands
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...of some help. Ada admits that this is true, and the woman—who introduces herself as Ruby—immediate begins telling Ada how to farm the property: she’ll need to plow, plant, harvest, etc. (full context)
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Ada quickly grows to like Ruby. Ruby explains that she’s not exactly a servant or a hired hand—something more like an... (full context)
Chapter 4: verbs, all of them tiring
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Back in the town of Black Cove, Ada and Ruby have reached an agreement: Ruby will teach Ada how to run a farm, and in... (full context)
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...tried and failed to seduce her—as soon as he was indiscrete, Ada informed her father. Ruby uses Ada’s piano to make good deals with neighbors—she’s using Ada’s “useless” possessions to purchase... (full context)
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...with Inman, she looks through the basement of her house, searching for coffee. She and Ruby drink the coffee and talk about Ada’s love of books—including Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens.... (full context)
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Ada is struck by how busily she and Ruby have to work in order to survive on their farm. Ruby is a harsh coach... (full context)
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When Ruby was older, she began to wonder about her mother—the kind of woman who would marry... (full context)
Chapter 6: ashes of roses
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It’s fall, and Ruby and Ada are working in a field. They pull weeds and harvest turnips and onions.... (full context)
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Ada and Ruby give shelter and food to a group of travelers who are moving from Tennessee to... (full context)
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As time goes on, Ada notices that Ruby, despite being a very capable farmer, has a strange way of getting things done. She’s... (full context)
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After talking with Ruby, Ada walks around her property, staring up at the birds. She wonders if the numbers... (full context)
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...the beginning of the Civil War). She explains what she remembers of the party to Ruby. At the party, a rich, foolish man named Blount flirted with Ada, and Ada reluctantly... (full context)
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Ada continues telling Ruby about the party. Blount gave Ada a kiss on the cheek, sensing that Ada was... (full context)
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Back in the present, Ada and Ruby stare out into the night sky. Ada feels an overpowering sense of loneliness as she... (full context)
Chapter 8: source and root
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Ada and Ruby walk into town, even though it’s raining. They’re on a mission to buy supplies for... (full context)
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In town, Ada and Ruby buy powder, caps, and other ammunition materials. They also buy a copy of Adam Bede... (full context)
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Ada and Ruby walk through town, and come across a handcuffed captive telling a story about having killed... (full context)
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The captive continues his tale, and Ruby and Ada listen. In vivid detail, the captive sets the scene: his father, an old... (full context)
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The captive finishes his story. Ada and Ruby are shocked by what they’ve heard—they can’t decide whether the captive was exaggerating or not.... (full context)
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Ruby tells Ada about her childhood, during which she saw plenty of herons. In fact, Ruby’s... (full context)
Chapter 10: in place of the truth
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Ada and Ruby have obtained a horse named Ralph, which they’ll use to plow their land. They also... (full context)
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While Ruby leads Ralph through the farm, Ada makes a scarecrow to protect the crops. She rummages... (full context)
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Ada sets up the scarecrow, and Ruby comes back from her trading with Esco. In the afternoon, Ada combs Ruby’s dark hair... (full context)
Chapter 12: freewill savages
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Ruby wakes up early to cook eggs for herself and Ada. As she cooks, she notices... (full context)
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Reluctantly, Ruby lets Stobrod into the house for some coffee. She tells Ada that they’ll feed him... (full context)
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The next day, Ruby and Ada get to work making molasses. In the afternoon, they sit by their barn... (full context)
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Stobrod explains how he came to be so interested in fiddling (Ruby points out that before the war he played the fiddle, but showed no great passion... (full context)
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Stobrod plays a strange tune called “Green-Eyed Girl” for Ada and Ruby. Ruby is amazed that her father shows so much talent for the fiddle. She remembers... (full context)
Chapter 14: a satisfied mind
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Ada and Ruby spend most of the fall working with apples. This requires them to plant seeds, pick... (full context)
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...evening, exhausted from her day’s work, she sits by the wire, staring up at the stars—Ruby is still doing work. Suddenly, Ada hears Ruby’s name called—it’s Stobrod and a friend of... (full context)
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...it reminds her of her father, who loved fiddling, unlike most preachers. As they play, Ruby arrives, and she sits next to Ada, listening. (full context)
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It’s now late at night. Stobrod and Pangle stop playing their instruments. Ruby mutters to Ada that her father is about to ask them for a favor. Stobrod... (full context)
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Stobrod complains to Ruby that she’s not being very sympathetic. Ruby angrily reminds Stobrod of how he went about... (full context)
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Ada and Ruby go into the house to sleep. Ada pulls out a telescope and points it at... (full context)
Chapter 16: naught and grief
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...headed for Ada’s farm. Stobrod explains to the Georgia boy that Ada has finally convinced Ruby to take care of her father. Ruby has agreed to let Stobrod and his friends... (full context)
Chapter 17: black bark in winter
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As the chapter opens, the Georgia boy is sitting with Ada and Ruby, describing the deaths of Stobrod and Pangle—he escaped their fate because he went into the... (full context)
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Ada and Ruby pack shovels, preparing to go and bury Stobrod and Pangle. Before they leave, however, they... (full context)
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Ada and Ruby set out to find Stobrod and Pangle’s bodies. Following the Georgia boy’s directions, they venture... (full context)
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Ada and Ruby bury Pangle near a chestnut tree. It takes a long time to bury him, and... (full context)
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Ruby and Ada resolve to nurse Stobrod back to health. They tie Stobrod to Ralph, their... (full context)
Chapter 18: footsteps in the snow
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The chapter cuts to Ada and Ruby, who are carrying Stobrod down from the mountain. They wake up one morning to the... (full context)
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...lowers her gun and says, “Come with me.” They walk back to where Stobrod and Ruby are stationed. (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.... (full context)
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...in which a fire has been built. Stobrod is also waking up, but Ada and Ruby are nowhere to be seen. Inman quickly gets Stobrod some water. As he gives Stobrod... (full context)
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...touches Inman’s back with her hands and tells him he feels thin. Together, Ada and Ruby tear apart one of the birds Ruby caught and drop it in a pot of... (full context)
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...they hunt, Ada tells Inman about Monroe’s death, her decision not to return to Charleston, Ruby, etc. As they hunt, they come upon an arrowhead lodged in a tree. The arrowhead... (full context)
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Ada and Inman rejoin Ruby and Stobrod, having failed to catch anything. Stobrod, conscious again, asks who Inman is. Inman... (full context)
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...about what their life would be like in Black Cove, if they were married. As Ruby said, they could all work on the farm together. They conclude, “Oh, the things they... (full context)
Chapter 20: spirits of crows, dancing
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...Stobrod begins to 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... (full context)
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Ada and Ruby head down through the mountains, with Inman and Stobrod taking a different route, heading north.... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Ada and Ruby are walking back to their farm when they hear gunshots. Stobrod comes running toward them,... (full context)
Epilogue: October of 1874
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...each other at the oddest moments.” The Georgia boy—whose name, we finally learn, is Reid—and Ruby have ended up married to each other, with three children who love to play with... (full context)
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...spent the last decade enjoying the beauty of the natural world. Working her farm with Ruby has taught her to love the stars, the trees, and the soil. In the evening,... (full context)