A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH NATURE
Cold Mountain is a four hundred and forty-nine-page novel by the North Carolina author Charles Frazier. The novel takes place during the civil war but constirates more on the life lessons each character learns. Throughout the novel Charles Frazier takes each character through very different, yet very difficult journeys. Cold Mountain consists of two parallel journeys, eventually meeting up in the end.
Each one of Cold Mountains characters are all very conscious about nature and have learned to appreciate and even revolve daily routines around it.
Man is one major character that has been deeply effected by nature. He is able to understand the beauty of nature and trys to absorb as much as possible. He carries along his Bartram, a book filled of poems and stories all on the topic of nature.
“He told her how it helped sustain him on his journey, how he had read it many a night by the firelight of a lonesome bivouac. Ada was unfamiliar with it, and Inman described it to her as a book concerned with its very part of the world and with everything that was important in it. He shared with her his view that the book stood nigh to holiness and was of such richness that one might dip into it at random and read only one sentence and yet is sure of finding instruction and delight (415).”
This book helps Inman get through many tough times and finds the book to be very comforting and relaxing. Inman’s journey back home from after leaving the hospital has made him a stronger person and more down to earth. Inman has seen nature as a positive and a negative thing on his journey. It has helped him get along and survive. Lending him a place to hide out from the cold and the home guards.
“He went at a dead run to the line of trees and brush beyond the spring. He plunged in and then, hidden from sight, he worked his way around until he found a thick stand of twisted laurel situated to give him a view of the front of the house (311)”
Nature has provided him with food, and even helped with its landmarks to give him a guideline of where he is and the direction he should be traveling to get back to Ada. Nature helped him understand his dreams and what he thought of such animals. It helped him build such strong beliefs towards not hurting the good things that come from nature.
“In the final dream, though, he was shot by hunters after a long chase. He was strung from a tree by a rope about his neck and skinned, and he watched the process as from above. His dripping red carcass was as he knew an actual bear’s to be after skinning: that is to say, manlike, thinner than one would expect, the structure of paws beneath the fur long like a man’s hand. With the killing , the dreams had run their course, and he awoke that last morning feeling bear was an animal of particular import to him, one he might observe and learn from, and that it would be on the order of a sin for him to kill one no matter what the expense, for there was something in bear that spoke to him of hope (352).
Nature has been there to comfort Inman and even entertain. Inman had been on a long journey and sometimes the only thing that would get him through would be nature. It helped him to look to the sky for answers and believe him and Ada might be looking at the same star. Nature is among the few things that helped Inman to keep up with his traveling and not quit and take the easy way out.
After all the good things to come out of nature it is hard to believe there would be any negative sides that effected Inman. Yet nature could be cruel at times when Inman was in need the most. Inman was almost done his journey when the snow started to fall making it very hard for Inman to follow the footsteps of Ada and Ruby.
“This time it was really snow in flakes like thistledown, falling slantwise so thick it made Inman dizzy with its movement. The tracks began fading off like twilight as the snow filled them. He walked fast, climbing to a ridge, and when the tracks started to disappear he broke into a run. He ran and ran downhill through dark hemlocks. He watched the tracks fill and their edges blur. No matter how fast he ran, the footprints disappeared before him until they were faint, like scars from old wounds (399)”
Even the critters of nature posed a problem to Inman.
“The sun climb beds the sky and turned hot, and all the insect world seemed to find Inman’s bodily fluids fascination. Striped mosquitoes hummed around his ears and bit his back through his shirts. Ticks dropped from trailside brush and attached themselves to him at hairline and pant waist and grew fat. Gnats sought out the water in his eyes. A horsefly follower him for a while, troubling his neck.” (72) well beyond her years
Ada starts out by being this young lady that is thought to be educated way
beyond her years.Yet everything she knows has to do with everything besides the nature and surviving part. Yet deeper in the book she gets to understand more about nature. She opens her mind up to things she had never done while her father had been alive. She had been very sheltered from the harsh work that has to be done to get along. Her father believed that it was more important for her to act like a lady and not have to worry about the nature aspect of life. When Adas father dies she is forced to learn and do things to make ends meet. She is introduce to Ruby who can be looked at as her savor. Without Ruby Ada would not learn the many tiring jobs that need to be done. Ada has grown as a person through the novel. She has learned so much more then many could ever learn. Mostly because she was willing to learn as much as she was able. The thought of her understanding and working with nature was very intreging to her. Ada learned how to weed, plow, plant, cut, feed, and even kill. Very tiring but very rewarding to her. Nature helped her be more open minded about things that she might have looked down upon before. It even made Ada more open to the people she became friends with. If her father had still been alive when Ada met Ruby she might have looked as her as someone she should not become acquaintances with. Yet through nature she learned that there is so much to learn from others unlike you.
“Ada had only just begun to form such a picture, and she looked to the sky for help in finding direction (388).”
Ruby has grown up with the knowledge of nature. Being left alone as a child made her grown up at an incredible pace. Ruby is able to understand many concepts about nature and how it works. She revolves many of her daily routines around nature. Such as planting food, or cutting wood.
“The crops were growling well, largely, Ruby claimed, because they had been planted, at her instance, in strict accordance with the signs. In Ruby’s mind, everything-setting fence posts, making sauerkraut, killing hogs-fell under the rule of the heavens. Cut firewood in the old of the moon, she’d advised, otherwise it won’t do much but fry and hiss at you come winter. Next April when the poplar leaves are about the size of a squire’s ear, we’ll plant corn when the signs are in the feet: otherwise the corn will just shank and hang down. November, we’ll kill a hog in the growing moon, for if we don’t the meat will lack grease and pork chops will cup in the pan. (134)”
She knows the secrets and tales of how to live as one with the nature. She is a very strong person and helps those around her become more independent. Ruby has always been a very open minded person understanding the beauty of nature. At a very young age she learned not to be afraid of nature but look at its beauty and take it the wonderful things it may teach you.
“It was Ruby’s opinion that if a person puzzled all this out over time, she might also find a lesson somewhere in it, for much of creation worked by such method and to such ends (139).”
Since then she has been a very good teacher to anyone that is willing to open their minds and take in the unbelievable things that can only be learned from nature.
“Then out of the blue, she looked at Ada and said Point North. She grinned at the long delay Ada worked out the cardinal directions from her recollection of where the sun set. Such questions were a rent habit Ruby had developed. She seemed to delight in demonstrating how disorient Ada was in the world (137)”
Stobrod a character that had been looked at in the beginning of the novel as a dead beat dad and had no relationship with nature has changed. He has changed into a man that looks at nature as a beautiful object. He does most of this through the songs he sings and writes.
“Coarse as the song was, Ada found herself moved by it. More so, she believed than at any opera she had attended from Dock Street to Milan because Stobrod delivered it with such utter faith in its substance, in its ability to lead one toward a better life, one in which a satisfied mind might one day be attainable, Ada wishes there were a way to capture what she was hearing in the way an ambrotype captures images, so it could be held in reserve for the benefit of a future whose residents might again need access to what it stood for (338)”
In the novel Cold Mountain every character, no matter how big or how small is effected by nature. Wither they revolve their daily routines around it, or just become a better person because of it they all some way or another have a close relationship with nature.
Frazier, Charles. Cold Mountain. Vintage contemporaries ed edition (August 12, 1998)