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In Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier interweaves the stories of the wounded Confederate soldier, Inman, and Ada, the woman he left behind on Cold Mountain and to whom he is making his perilous way back.
a wounded confederate soldier’s hard journey home
Inman was seriously wounded in the neck and not expected to live. His fellow soldiers set him aside to die, but when he was still alive after two days, they put him in a boxcar with other injured soliders, and thus he made the miserable trip to a hospital.
At the hospital, the doctors looked at him and said there was not much they could do. He might live or he might not. They gave him but a grey rag and a little basin to clean his own wound. Those first few days, when he broke consciousness enough to do it, he wiped at his neck with the rag until the water in the basin was the color of the comb on a turkey-cock. But mainly the wound had wanted to clean itself. Before it started scabbing, it spit out a number of things: a collar button and a piece of wool collar from the shirt he had been wearing when he was hit, a shard of soft grey metal as big as a quarter dollar piece, and, unaccountably, something that closely resembled a peach pit. That last he set on the nightstand and studied for some days. He could never settle his mind on whether it was a part of him or not. He finally threw it out the window but then had troubling dreams that it had taken root and grown, like Jack’s bean, into something monstrous.
Inman has had enough of war and decides to walk home to his sweetheart instead of returning to the army. Attention to odd and compelling detail accompanies his hard, strange journey from Virginia to North Carolina, where Ada is trying to keep the Black Cove Farm going after her father’s death.
On the way, Inman gets turned into the “Home Guard” authorities, gets away, is nearly killed more than once, suffers much, encounters some bizarre people and situations, kills four men, etc. etc.
Inman and Ada’s reunion is joyful, but the Home Guard is still after him, and a happy ending is not guaranteed.
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