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MonkeyNotes-Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
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Chapter 19 the far side of trouble Summary Stobrod is only partially conscious and Inman is suffering the effects of hunger and over-weariness. Ada and Ruby decide to let the two men sleep while they go to set up another cabin. They patch holes, cut wood, clean out dead bugs and build a fire. They clean and prepare the turkeys for cooking. Periodically, Ruby goes back to tend the fire in the men’s cabin.

Ruby is concerned about what Ada will do with the farm now that Inman has returned. She explains that she and Ada would be fine without his help. Ada agrees that she doesn’t need Inman, but confesses that she does want him.

Inman wakes up and sees Stobrod who asks for water. Inman goes outside to get some and sees firelight from the other cabin. He brings Stobrod water, tends the fire, and then goes to the women’s cabin. He knocks and Ruby lets him in.

He sees Ada who is so beautiful to him. She puts her hands to the front and back of his waist and comments on how thin he feels. Inman does not know how to respond to her touch. Ada feeds him turkey, fried apples and grits while Ruby prepares a turkey broth to take to Stobrod.

When Ada and Inman are alone, he shows her his Bartram book. He offers to read some to her and randomly opens to a page, which turns out to be about wonton Indian virgins frolicking in the flowers. Embarrassed, he excuses himself to wash the cookware, still remembering the touch of Ada’s hands on his waist.

When he returns they talk about the letters Ada had written him, which he never received. Inman confesses that his journey was spent hoping Ada would marry him, but he feels that he has become “ruined beyond repair”. Ada reassures him and they sit in front of the fire, Ada in Inman’s arms.

Ruby returns and Inman leaves to sleep in the men’s cabin. Ada, Ruby and Inman all lay awake dwelling on what the future holds. Ada sees that she and Inman have aged so much in only a few years, but likes who they have become. Ruby wonders what to do with Stobrod should he recover. Inman takes pleasure in thoughts of Ada and the brief physical contact they shared.

The next day Ada and Inman go hunting together. As they walk they speak of their future. Ada explains “how she had come to be what she was”, her father’s death and her relationship with Ruby. They find an old Indian arrow embedded in a tree and mark this as a special spot.

They return with firewood and goldenseal to help heal Stobrod, but no game. While Stobrod sleeps and Ada and Ruby map out the future of Ada’s farm, Inman goes to the other cabin to sleep. Later Ruby suggests that she stay to monitor Stobrod’s condition and that Ada go to check on Inman.

In the other cabin Ada gently touches Inman and he awakens. She undresses and goes to him. They spend the night together talking of the past, and then their future.


Notes

This long chapter continues the climax of Ada and Inman’s meeting. The feeling that they are finally together eases the painful melancholy mood of the novel. As characters recount their experiences to each other, Frazier’s skill at effective understatement is highlighted. This compassionate break in the sadness could almost serve as a satisfactory ending to the novel.

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