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Chapter 20 spirit of crows, dancing Summary After three days together, Ada and Inman discuss their options with respect to the war. Inman could return to the army, remain an outlier, or surrender to the Federals and wait out the war’s end. They decide on the last.
On the fifth day the plan to head home is mapped out. Ada and Ruby leave first, alone. Later Inman loads Stobrod onto the horse and sets out. After some miles, Teague and the boy he keeps with him appear with some Home Guard scouts. Inman smacks the horse and it takes off with Stobrod. Then Inman shoots one of the Guards and one of their dogs, and charges into the ensuing confusion. The Guard’s horses are out of control and Inman is able to shoot another man. Teague’s horse jumps and Inman grabs Teague’s gun. Inman shoots Teague and another Guard.
Only the boy remains, on horseback, hiding behind a tree. Inman calls him out in order to avoid having to kill him but the boy is hardened against Inman and refuses. After a chase through the woods, the boy is thrown from his horse. Inman tells the boy to put his gun down. The boy fiddles with the gun then shoots Inman.
Ada hears the shot and runs back. She finds Inman and cradles him in her lap. As he drifts in and out of consciousness he envisions all the seasons on Cold Mountain happening simultaneously, and the spirits of crows, dancing and singing in the trees.
The events of this chapter can be considered a climax as well as the climactic reunion of Inman and Ada. Inman’s death happens quickly, as the crows that have been symbolic throughout the novel are now but spirits.