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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lauren Owen: IMG The Other Vampire

It's a wild and thundery night. Inside a ramshackle old manor house, a beautiful young girl lies asleep in bed. At the window, a figure watches... Continue »
  1. $18.90 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    The Quick

    Lauren Owen 9780812993271


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Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Cold Mountain

aflatten, May 1, 2009

Fictitious novels may not provide precise information about an event or era, but are a great source to examine larger ideas. Charles Frazier confronts the morality of war in his novel, Cold Mountain, by using imagery and juxtaposition. Readers journey along with Inman as he pursues his way home and makes numerous moral decisions.
Cold Mountain’s setting takes place in the mountainous terrain of the south. The central character, Inman, suffers from a battle wound at the end of the Civil War, but leaves the hospital. He traverses back to his home on Cold Mountain and to his love, Ada. Meanwhile, Ada and her new acquaintance Ruby work to restore her neglected farm. Ada and Ruby are one example of how the role of women alters during wartime. Ada, an educated, well-mannered and beautiful woman, is not accustomed to difficult manual labor. However, she soon adjusts to her new responsibilities. Like Ada, Inman is unaccustomed to making critical decisions, but soon acquires a moral judgment in times of fighting and death.
Along the journey home, Inman is faced with numerous moral questions that define his character. First, he comes upon Veasey, a preacher who had sexual relations with a young woman. Inman stops Veasey from throwing the girl off a cliff and prepares to shoot him. At the last moment, Veasey “turned his face up and Inman could see that his cheeks were shining with tears… Inman relented and only struck the man a mid-force blow across the cheekbone” (113-114). Inman sympathizes with Veasey because Veasey feels sorry for his wrongdoings. Through this act, Inman reveals his belief of giving people second chances. Later, he stays with a single woman who offers her hospitality if he helps butcher her pig. When the Home Guard steals the hog, her only source of food, Inman kills the men and returns the pig to her. After helping the woman butcher her pig, Inman kindly helps other strangers along his walk home. He assists an older man move his dead bull, helps bury a woman’s dead daughter, and offers money to whomever gives him food. Even though Inman has good intentions, his often violent acts are accepted in the juxtaposed world he lives in.
Fighting in the war caused Inman to feel indifferent to death. After the Home Guard kills Veasey, Inman continues along the same trail unmoved by what just happened. The Home Guard does not patrol for lawbreakers, but rather hunts and kills Confederate deserters. After a man named Junior reports Inman to the Home Guard and they almost kill him, Inman returns to Junior for revenge. He “stepped to Junior and struck him across the ear with the barrel of the LeMat’s and then clubbed at him with the butt until he lay flat on his back” (234). This decision to get revenge would not be considered moral, but it happened during wartime and is consequentially viewed as a justifiable act. Although Inman makes regrettable choices, he separates himself from other murderers by refusing to shoot a boy.
War alters the morality of killing people, transforming death into a daily occurrence. Even after the countless times Inman killed men in war, he cannot kill adolescents. Inman offers to let the cornered boy leave, but the boy obstinately declines Inman’s offer. Out of frustration that he might be forced to kill the young Home Guard rider, Inman says, “Damn it. I’m looking for a way not to kill you” (443). Inman’s refusal to kill children demonstrates his strong morality and ability to act correctly even after the war establishes the mindset to kill all enemies.
Charles Frazier utilizes imagery and juxtaposition successfully when portraying his ideas about morality. The gory deaths Inman witnesses illustrate how grotesque and morally wrong it is to kill someone. Together, imagery and the juxtaposition of war convey Frazier’s message: morals are crucial in making the correct choice. Any reader who enjoys wild adventures, history related tales, or subtle romance should consider walking through the chapters in Cold Mountain with Inman.
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