Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Inman lies in a Confederate hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina, recovering from a combat wound. He spends much time peering out a window. When well enough, he begins to explore the surroundings of the hospital, meeting a blind man he had seen through the window. The blind man observes that it is better to have been born blind than to lose sight after seeing the world. Inman decides to desert from the army and return to Cold Mountain and his beloved Ada.
Ada, the sole inhabitant of the Black Cove farm, struggles to feed herself. After her father died, Ada allowed Black Cove to fall into a general state of disrepair. She flirts with the idea of returning to Charleston but reasons that there is little point in doing so. Though educated, she was never taught farming, hunting, or any other survival skill. Through her neighbors, Ada meets a young drifter named Ruby, who agrees to help in the upkeep of Black Cove in exchange for a place to live.
Inman’s journey progresses slowly because of his injury. During a stop at a general store, he is accosted by robbers, leading him to remember a Cherokee incantation called “To Destroy Life.” Inman realizes that the journey home will be violent. After recalling his first introduction to Ada, Inman enlists the aid of a ferry girl to cross a river. While crossing, the robbers catch up and force Inman and the ferry girl into the water. Thanks to the girl’s knowledge of the river, Inman makes it across...
(The entire section is 991 words.)
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the shadow of a crow
Cold Mountain opens in late summer as Inman, a Confederate soldier, lies wounded in a hospital after being hit in the neck during a battle near Petersburg, Virginia. As he does each morning when he wakes, Inman stares out a large open window in front of his bed, imagining scenes from home.
Inman watches a blind man who sells peanuts and newspapers from a cart outside the window. He is surprised to find out that the man has been blind since birth and not through “some desperate and bloody dispute.” When Inman comments on the man’s accepting attitude toward his disability, the man says, “it might have been worse had [he] ever been given a glimpse of the world and then lost it” for this would have turned him “hateful.” Inman insists that is what the war has done to him.
Inman describes the battle that had the greatest effect on him: Fredericksburg. Thousands of Federals were shot down as they charged the wall behind which he and other Confederates had amassed. Inman recalls, “The Federals kept on coming long past the point where all the pleasure of whipping them vanished.” That night, Inman and his fellow soldiers climbed over the wall and took boots off of the dead Federals. He was stunned by the carnage, which included a man killing wounded Federals by hitting them in the head with a hammer. The blind man tells him, “You need to put that away from you,” but Inman cannot...
(The entire section is 3027 words.)