What kind of courage is present in Cold Mountain? Can we say that Inman was courageous in taking the risk of desertion as well as Ada and Ruby for surviving on their own?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, various types of courage are displayed. In many stories about war, the term or concept of courage is often portrayed as a masculine trait associated with a form of aggression. In war stories, "guts and grit" are associated with courage. One of the main characters in Cold Mountain, Inman, does the opposite of risking his life in battle and instead deserts the Confederate Army.

However, one could argue that risking being charged with treason—which could be punishable by death—in order to go back home to his wife is just as courageous. It could also be argued that it is courageous to think for one's self after being indoctrinated by what George Orwell called "groupthink." Deserting one's military unit does not always necessarily mean they are cowardly, but could be due to not believing in the cause they are fighting for.

Likewise, Ada and Ruby are courageous in that they try to regenerate Ada's farm despite being surrounded by war. Trying to make a living and trying to bring life to a farm is the opposite of having the courage to kill and destroy, but is just as courageous. It is easy to pull a trigger for some people—like the psychopathic Confederate and Union soldiers who either pillage or kill outside the laws of war—but it is much harder to bring life into the world. This is symbolically represented by Inman and Ada's child being born after Inman's death, and the survivors of the war continuing to reside on the farm to keep it alive.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team