Cold Mountain | Study Guide

Charles Frazier

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Cold Mountain Study Guide." Course Hero. 27 Feb. 2017. Web. 27 May 2022. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, February 27). Cold Mountain Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 27, 2022, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Cold Mountain Study Guide." February 27, 2017. Accessed May 27, 2022.


Course Hero, "Cold Mountain Study Guide," February 27, 2017, accessed May 27, 2022,

Cold Mountain | Chapter 3 : The Color of Despair | Summary



Inman has been walking through stormy, rainy weather for several days and is feeling out of sorts about his slow and painful progress. He hates the landscape, the bugs, and the constant threat of Home Guards, who relentlessly search for deserters. All of this figures into his decision to enter a township and buy food. As he leaves, three men attack him. He beats them off and disappears into the woods, remembering as he walks a spell he learned from Swimmer and the sermon Monroe preached on the day Inman met Ada.

At nightfall, Inman reaches the Cape Fear River, a river so broad he cannot cross it without help. He finds a sign advertising a ferry and calls out, but the only help available comes from a young woman with a canoe. She crosses to fetch him, but just as they start back across the river, the three men Inman beat up at the settlement begin shooting at them. The canoe is ruined but good enough to use as cover as Inman and the girl make their way to the shore. Following the woman's directions, Inman continues walking, but his neck wound has reopened from the day's physical efforts, which sours his mood.

The keenness of Inman's observational skills and memory is clear in his ability to recall seeing a Whitworth rifle near one of the men who attacked him in the settlement and then to match the gun to the sound of it firing at him and the ferry girl that evening. His survival skills are apparent in the way he secures his belongings to make them as waterproof as possible before he and the girl get in the river. These skills will be called for over and over on his journey.


A recurring image in this chapter is Inman's disgust for the land he is walking through. Charles Frazier uses words like turdlike, foul, sorry, swill, lurid, and vile to make Inman's distaste for the land, the river, and the snakes and fish living there abundantly clear. His negativity is not a bad thing, however, as it propels him forward with even more determination toward the land he loves, the clean beauty of the mountains. As he struggles through the worst night of his journey so far, Inman seems to understand the significance of his hardships, thinking, "this journey will be the axle of my life." It must be a relief to think his devastating war memories might be replaced with memories of a journey in which he is the master. Still, his thoughts are filled with negativity as he dwells on one of Swimmer's spells and a sermon by Monroe, which share a common theme—the lessening of a man's spirit.

The bright points in Inman's musings as he walks are centered on Ada. In this chapter, he recalls their first meeting, which did not go particularly well for him, and thinks about how only she might save him from his despair. Again, this hope propels him forward.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Cold Mountain? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!