Cold Mountain | Study Guide

Charles Frazier

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Cold Mountain | Chapter 19 : The Far Side of Trouble | Summary

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Summary

As Stobrod and Inman sleep and heal, Ada and Ruby prepare a second cabin and fix the turkeys to roast. All through the day they sit quietly as the birds cook, Ruby going out occasionally to tend to the men's fire and to check on Stobrod's fever.

As night falls, Ruby finally breaks the silence. She tells Ada they do not need Inman in order to be successful on the farm, and that Ada does not need Inman. Ada replies that she wants him.

When Inman finally awakens, he sees Stobrod is also awake and in need of water. He goes to the creek to get the water and can smell the turkey and see the fire from the cabin where the women are. Inman tends to Stobrod, noting that despite the shape he is in, he has a strong will to live. Then he goes to the women's hut, where Ada welcomes him sweetly and feeds him.

Ruby leaves to check on Stobrod, indicating that she will be gone for a while. Ada and Inman have some awkward attempts at conversation, and then he goes to clean the cookware in the creek. As he scrubs the pots, he looks forward to returning to Ada and kissing her, but the awkwardness remains between them. Finally, he embraces her from behind and they begin to talk more easily. Inman lets her know that he wishes to marry her but is afraid "I'm ruined beyond repair." Her response is that she knows people can be mended, and "I don't see why not you." Just as the couple begins to reach an intimate level, Ruby returns. Inman goes to the cabin with Stobrod to sleep, and before they fall asleep in their cabin, Ruby and Ada agree that Stobrod can live with them to heal completely, should he survive.

The next morning, Inman and Ada go hunting. They continue catching up on the lost years between them and begin to discuss their future. Ada finds the goldenseal Ruby has been seeking to use as medicine for her father, and the two gather plenty of firewood, but they do not shoot any game. They return to the village to find Stobrod sitting up and aware. As he falls back asleep, Ada suggests that Inman should also have some more healing sleep in the other cabin. Left alone with Stobrod, the two women pass the time discussing their next plans for the farm once spring arrives. They share a glorious vision of great bounty and success.

As night approaches, Ada goes to Inman. They sleep together and then talk through the night of their past and their future. They plan a marriage followed by "years passing happy and peaceful."

Analysis

The level of emotion in this chapter is intense. From Inman's great despair, to Ruby's initial jealousy of him, to the sweetness of the love between Ada and Inman and the beginnings of Ruby's forgiveness of her father, readers feel the depths and heights to which humans can go.

If the bonds of friendship between Ada and Ruby were ever questioned, this chapter erases all doubt. Ruby is actually jealous of Inman, but her fears about it evaporate as she sees the love between them. And one of the first things Ada tells Inman is that Ruby must always remain at Black Cove. The two women seal the permanence of their bond as Ada invites Stobrod to heal at Black Cove, and the two friends plan the years of work ahead of them that will lead to the plenty they desire.

Despite the love between Ada and Inman finally reaching fruition, the chapter ends with a warning note. Even as the lovers focus on a future "without boundary or limit," there is a feeling "youth was about over for them and what lay ahead was another country entirely, wherein the possibilities narrowed down moment by moment."

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