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. 25 Sep. 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, February 27). Cold Mountain Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Cold Mountain Study Guide." February 27, 2017. Accessed September 25, 2023.


Course Hero, "Cold Mountain Study Guide," February 27, 2017, accessed September 25, 2023,

Cold Mountain | Themes



For Inman and many people native to the mountains, including Ruby, the beauty and protection of nature operates on a spiritual level in their lives. Over and over again, Inman's knowledge of nature and respect for it help keep him safe, just as Ruby's vast knowledge of the natural world makes it possible for her and Ada to survive and prosper at Black Cove. It is a spiritual experience to trust in nature's bounty, accept its healing powers, and recognize its beauty. In the regularities of nature, people are able to find meaning.

Inman also remembers the spiritual lessons taught to him by his Native American friend Swimmer, and those he heard in traditional church services. These lessons give him comfort on his long trip.

For Ada, the daughter of a minister, Christian spirituality is never far from her consciousness. Her spirituality, also found in her passion for the written and visual arts, sustains her as she struggles to come to grips with an entirely new way of life. As she grows as a person, her spirituality grows as well. She comes to embrace the spirituality of nature and often finds meaning in the night sky and the seasons.

Longing for Home

Inman never stops longing for home, never stops putting one foot in front of the other to return to the woman and the land he loves. This longing gives him strength, even in the direst of situations. The allure of home is stronger than the appeal of living as a hermit, of staying to help a beautiful young woman survive on her own, or of simply disappearing as an unknown casualty of war.

Ada and Ruby, both feeling homeless as the novel begins, together turn this emptiness into a dream, then the reality of a home. It is a reality gained from their own labor. It is easy to see why this sort of home can hold such a magnetic pull on Inman.


None of the major characters in Cold Mountain could survive and be healthy without community—not just physically but spiritually and emotionally as well. Every character depends on others for help, understands that cooperation is the only way to make it, and comes to cherish the companionship made possible by living in a community to alleviate loneliness and ensure survival. The one exception to this is the goatwoman whom Inman encounters and stays with for a few days on his way home to Cold Mountain. However, one purpose of his meeting her and seeing her lifestyle as a hermit is to confirm for him that he is not too damaged by his war experiences to belong in a community. He recognizes that her lonely life is not for him. He becomes even more committed to the idea that marrying Ada will help him to heal.

It's significant that the place where Inman and Ada are reunited is the site of a community. They find each other high in the mountains, in an abandoned Cherokee village. It's clear that the real tragedy of the Trail of Tears—which ripped the Native Americans from their homeland in the 1830s, forced by the U.S. government to march up to 1,200 miles to what is now Oklahoma—is the loss of the community that they formed together and that had sustained them for so long. It's also lovely that Inman and Ada and Ruby and Stobrod restore that feeling of community to the place with their love and care for one another. In the end, it is never buildings that make a community, it is people.

Cite This Study Guide

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