During his service in the Civil War, Inman sustains a horrible neck wound that then causes him a great deal of pain throughout the rest of the novel. Inman’s neck wound is an externalization of the psychological wounds he’ll grapple with over the course of the story—in other words, it’s a powerful symbol of the lasting trauma of war.
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The timeline below shows where the symbol The Neck Wound appears in Cold Mountain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: the shadow of a crow
Chapter 3: a color of despair
Chapter 11: the doing of it
...Inman’s turn to tell the old woman about himself. He tells the woman about his neck wound —he received it while fighting with the Federals in Petersburg. Inman says that his newer... (full context)