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Charles Frazier uses reverse psychology as a great advantage in his very well known novel, Cold Mountain, a Civil War story with blood on its bayonets and romance in its gentle soul. The author takes some creative risks by reshaping the true battle tales of the Civil War into an epic story that accumulates power and purpose with each turn of the page. The story is set around the middle of the Civil War, perhaps somewhere around 1864, the later and more depressed years at that. These years were packed with perils and dangers that outweighed any romance or patriotism that was prevalent at the beginning. Cold Mountain is the story of two parallel journeys during the Civil War: Inman's long and hazardous journey across the American landscape, and Ada's internal odyssey toward an understanding of herself. What makes Frazier's novel so appealing, to most teenage and mid-aged readers, is the depth of detail surrounding both journeys. Frazier based this story on family history, and in the characters of Inman and Ada. Inman is a Confederate soldier who received a neck wound from a battle and is forced to go to the hospital. After he goes to the hospital he stays there for a few months. Then one night he climbs out the window and starts on his journey back home. Ada is a woman of knowledge. She is able to read, write, figure out arithmetic, draw, and play the piano. She may be able to do all of these things but she can't cook or care for farm animals. Inman and Ada experience many different shortcomings to fulfil their personal odysseys. The main theme throughout the book revolves around love between two individuals, Inman and Ada. Their love for each other is the motivation that keeps both characters moving toward reaching their separate but linked odysseys.
The main focal point of Frazierís novel, Cold Mountain, is to reunite Inman and Ada. Inman deserted the Confederate army a few years after the start of the war, and he tries to go back to Cold Mountain where he can find Ada's home. On his way to Cold Mountain Inman faces many challenges. The major challenges Inman faced were getting wounded, the Home Guard, raiders, and finding food and shelter on a daily basis. At the beginning of the book Inman was injured by a bullet that hit his neck during the Battle of Petersburg. Civil War injuries by bullets and pieces of shrapnel often resulted in a deadly disease called gangrene. Gangrene is local death of soft tissues due to loss of blood supply. (webster.com) Gangrene was the least of Inmanís worries. The Home Guard is a group of men whose job is to capture runaway soldiers. Inman was always in fear of the Home Guard catching him. Raiders, who were another group that Inman was very much afraid of, could be from either North or South. It did not matter what side you were, confederates or union, Raiders stole, killed, and burned anything and anyone in their path. The Raiders were solely out for what they could do for themselves at the expense of others. One of the biggest challenges for Inman was finding food and shelter while trying to heal from his wound, hide from the Home Guard, and stay as far away from the Raiders as he could. Behind every challenge faced was Inmanís love for Ada which propelled him forward at all costs.
On the way to Cold Mountain Inman meets many different people. Some of these people are very helpful to Inman, and others endanger his life. The most memorable people that Inman meets are Swimmer, Veasey, goat woman, Junior, and Sara. Swimmer is a Cherokee Indian that is good friends with Inman. Swimmer gives Inman a gift when they have to say good-bye. Veasey is a bad preacher, whom Inman encounters toward the beginning of the book, who tries to push a woman over a cliff after having knocked her out with some drugs. Veasey is a traveling companion of Inman and follows him until his end. Goat woman is an old lady that takes care of goats. She meets Inman while she is adjusting a
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