Before we’re introduced to him, Stobrod Thewes is described as a lazy ne’er-do-well who can’t even take care of his own child, Ruby. But when we meet Stobrod, he’s turned over a new leaf. Stobrod’s desire to become a better man—more honest, harder working, etc.—is symbolized by his devotion to playing the fiddle. Stobrod uses his talent for music to provide joy and amusement to others, and devotes long hours to learning and perfecting his craft. In a novel about making big changes in life, Stobrod’s fiddle is a powerful reminder that it’s not too late to start again.
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The timeline below shows where the symbol The Fiddle appears in Cold Mountain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12: freewill savages
Chapter 16: naught and grief
...dismount and begin cooking their food over the fire—sausage. Teague orders Stobrod to play his fiddle. Stobrod and Pangle begin playing a tune, largely improvised. They’re shaky at first, but gradually... (full context)
Chapter 17: black bark in winter
Chapter 19: the far side of trouble
Epilogue: October of 1874