Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain Epilogue Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The Epilogue begins, “Even after all this time and three children together, Ada still found them clasping 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 each other all the time. As the day goes on, a nine-year-old girl also runs up to Ada and addresses her as “mama.” Ada embraces the child.
The ambiguous first sentence of the Epilogue almost tricks us into thinking that Inman has survived and married Ada after all. But in fact, it’s Ruby who’s gotten married—rather ironically, considering that she’s always been fiercely independent, and leery of men. And yet there’s one reminder of Inman left in Black Cove: Ada’s child. Judging by her age, we can guess that Inman is the child’s father (the child was probably conceived just before Inman’s death).
Themes
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon
Ada has 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, Stobrod plays the fiddle for Ada, Reid, Ruby, and all four children. As the night goes on, Ada reads to the children, and slowly they get sleepy. While Ada reads, the narrator notes that she has trouble turning the pages: she’s long since lost the tip of one finger chopping wood. Tomorrow, Ada thinks to herself, will be a long, demanding day—just like the others.
In the end, we see that Ada and Ruby do succeed in building a new community for themselves. This certainly doesn’t mean that Ada forgets about Inman—on the contrary, the understated nature of this epilogue suggests that Ada thinks of Inman, her lover, all the time, not least because she’s raising the child she conceived with him. Furthermore, the “wound” Ada sustains (her missing fingertip), seems to signal that Inman’s tragic death left its mark on her life in ways both physical and emotional. Nevertheless, because she’s inspired by the task of caring for her farm and her child, Ada refuses to wallow in the past: she devotes herself to living here and now, working on her farm, loving her child, and listening to Stobrod’s beautiful fiddle music. As Ada has already said, strength and happiness are acts of will: she simply refuses to spend the rest of her life moping over Inman. We the readers might weep for Inman’s death, but Ada does not.
Themes
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Isolation, Survival, and Community Theme Icon
Romance, Sexuality, and Repression Theme Icon