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Cold Mountain | Quotes

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1.

Cold Mountain ... soared in his mind as a place ... all his scattered forces might gather.


Narrator, Chapter 1

As Inman is recovering from his war wound and remembering the lessons Swimmer taught him, he finds hope in the idea that he might be healed from his inner scars if he can return to Cold Mountain. He becomes determined to walk home.

2.

A man, walking. The feeling that she was meant to follow. Or else to wait.


Narrator, Chapter 2

Following Esco Swanger's instructions to look backward into a well to see her future, Ada has a very clear image she cannot get out of her mind. She sees this at about the same time Inman begins walking home to Cold Mountain.

3.

This journey will be the axle of my life.


Inman, Chapter 3

It is early in his journey when Inman realizes the importance of it. His world revolves around getting home to Ada and Cold Mountain, as a wheel revolves around an axle.

4.

Celebration had been a lacking feature ... since survival had such a ... way of focusing ... attentions elsewhere.


Narrator, Chapter 4

Ruby believes she is about 21 years old, but she does not know for sure, nor is it important to her. Ruby has had to focus on survival her whole life. Inman is now similarly focused, as are many who are trying to survive the war.

5.

Contentment is ... believing ... God will not strike you ... for leaning in the direction of your hungers.


Solomon Veasey, Chapter 7

This is a clear explanation of how Solomon Veasey is able to act so immorally and still call himself a man of God. It's a stark contrast to the honor code Inman lives by.

6.

Inman had seen so much death it had come to seem a random thing entirely.


Narrator, Chapter 9

When Inman pulls Solomon Veasey up from the shallow grave, having himself survived the mass shooting by the Home Guard, he feels no sorrow to find him dead. But Inman rarely experiences sorrow when people are killed because of the desensitization he has developed from experiencing the horrors of war.

7.

He had ... decided there was little usefulness in speculating ... on what a day will bring.


Narrator, Chapter 11

This is Inman's direction of thinking after an innocuous question by the goatwoman regarding the way she has made cheese right in front of him, and how surprising it might be for him: "Did you think before sunset you'd see cheese made?" His response shows both his practicality and the numbness he has developed to what life will deliver to him.

8.

Our minds aren't made to hold on to ... pain the way we do bliss.


Goatwoman, Chapter 11

In the most healing segment of his journey home, Inman spends time with a goatwoman whose words and medicines restore him to a better level of health than he has experienced since the novel began.

9.

No matter what ... waste one has made of ... life, it is ... possible to find ... redemption.


Narrator, Chapter 12

The narrator relays Ada Monroe's thoughts after she has heard Stobrod Thewes play the fiddle for the first time. He plays like a man whose life is "worth claiming," and Ada sees his possible change when Ruby Thewes cannot.

10.

Watching that happen ... might make the years seem not ... linear progress but ... a looping and a return.


Narrator, Chapter 14

The narrator interprets Ada Monroe's thinking when she comes up with the idea to track the progress of the point throughout the year where the sun sets on the ridge. It shows her growing reliance on and acceptance of nature.

11.

He was nearing home; he could feel it in ... his longing to see ... people he had known.


Narrator, Chapter 15

Inman can finally see Cold Mountain on the horizon, and the themes of longing for home and community are combined in his response to the scene.

12.

She could get through this if she ... thought of the ... things left to be done.


Narrator, Chapter 17

After she and Ruby Thewes find Stobrod Thewes still alive and make their way to the abandoned Cherokee village, Ada Monroe has reached the limits of her physical and emotional strength. Yet her growth is apparent in how she chooses to lift herself and continue to function in a way that is necessary, a way Inman has learned as well.

13.

The book ... was of such richness ... one might ... read ... one sentence and ... be sure of finding ... delight.


Narrator, Chapter 19

This is Inman's view on the book that has sustained him through the war years, the Bartram travelogue. As he shares it with Ada Monroe during their reunion, he is trying to become part of her world again, part of the world they will now inhabit together.

14.

What you have lost will not be returned ... All you can choose to do is go on.


Inman, Chapter 19

Inman is speaking to Ada Monroe of his love for her. Despite his sufferings in the war, all the while what he thought of was kissing the back of her neck and feeling the redemption that comes from the "fulfillment of a desire so long deferred."

15.

She believed maybe she liked them both better now.


Narrator, Chapter 19

Having shared her story and heard Inman's, Ada Monroe is more in love with him than ever. She knows hardship brings growth, and they have both become better people.

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