Charles Frazier created Cold Mountain as a historical fiction novel. The story follows Inman’s journey for months to his beloved Ada Monroe. The story is set during the Civil War’s middle 1860s in North Carolina. He doesn’t describe every battle, but the novel is considered one of the most important novels about Civil War. Cold Mountain presents the Civil War in flashback from Inman’s perspective. Instead of focusing on the battles themselves, it examines their impact on individuals and not the overall story. This novel could be called a Civil War story, but it’s inaccurate. Cold Mountain by Frazier can be used to teach us about Civil War trauma and the impact it had on soldiers and civilians. By looking at what Ada, Inman, or other characters went through during the Civil War, one can really see how it affected everyday citizens.
Inman is hospitalized after suffering a neck injury from combat. Inman is not only suffering from a neck injury but also emotional distress. Inman has trouble remembering how he got the wound. Inman recalls being wounded in a battle near Petersburg. He was pulled to his side by two of his closest friends to check on the wound. They then said a prayer for him as they knew he would die. Inman survived, was transferred to the field medical center and later moved. The hospital was full of buzzing bugs, extreme heat, and unpleasant smells, which Inman doesn’t remember. The Civil War’s deadliest battle is the Battle of Petersburg. The war had not seen anything like this. Frazier doesn’t give an exact account of the battle but takes a psychological perspective and focuses more on Inman’s disorientation and trauma from that battle. It is evident that the soldiers who fight for either the South or the Union are not loved by Frazier throughout the book. Soldiers are traumatized from the war. Not only is war traumatic for soldiers who are there, but it also causes trauma to civilians at home. Ada Monroe can help us see the emotional trauma at home from her perspective. Ada never went on to a battlefield but she experiences trauma from Civil War. The war drove men away from their homes and left them unsure of their futures. This time, men dominated the authority positions in the community, maintained the farms and ran the businesses. These were not all done by women. Monroe, Ada’s father, recently died, making the situation worse. Ada is now the sole owner of the family farm, after the farmhands have either left or gone to war. Ada realizes that she is not well-equipped to manage the farm on her own and wonders if the farm is worth the effort. Ada must realize that, despite her education being important, she is completely unprepared to survive during Civil War. This experience can be seen as the reason Ada feels helpless and so emotional. Her father supported her all her life and now he’s gone. He was her support and the farm workers were essential to her survival. Ada must learn the farm ways in order to survive. She is however afraid of what she will be faced with. Frazier mentions in Cold Mountain’s epilogue, that Ada sometimes has trouble turning the pages as she reads stories to children. Ada lost the tip her finger while cutting wood. Ada seems to have a wound that represents the emotional and physical trauma Inman has caused her. Ada lost Inman, just as many others in her family and other women experienced this loss. This tragic loss of life and the change in life caused trauma at home and affected almost all Americans during that time.
In the middle of the 1860’s, people no longer have the resources they used to, like family or religion. Also, the only priests, parents, and grandparents listed are dead, absent, corrupt, or dead. Ada’s father Monroe was the parish priest before he died. The town was left without a priest. Inman runs into Veasey another priest while he’s walking along Deep River. Veasey is wearing all black and is accompanied by a horse with an unconscious woman. Inman demands that Veasey explain what’s going on and tell him. Veasey brags to Inman about how it would be wrong to kill his priest father and man of God. Veasey explained that he drugged women to kill them, as she is pregnant with the child. Veasey didn’t want the residents of Cold Mountain to discover because they would ban Veasey. Cold Mountain has lost Monroe’s priest and a corrupt priest. It leaves the town without a reliable minister. Ruby tells Ada that her father is deceased and she doesn’t know anything about Stobrod, her father. Ruby’s maternal grandmother died while Ruby was pregnant. Stobrod helps Ruby to remember this as her mother’s passing so deeply affected him. While Stobrod didn’t physically hurt Ruby, he also did not care for her. Stobrod leaves Ruby to take care of herself at the Civil War’s beginning. This leaves those at home with little comfort and no one to help them, creating a lot of emotional and physical stress.
As you can see in Frazier’s novel Cold Mountain, a large part of Civil War’s destruction was psychological. It was also traumatizing physically and psychologically. Inman is later killed by the Home Guard. A large percentage of Americans died in the Civil War. Many others were injured. Cold Mountain is a collection of stories about war trauma and how survivors cope with it. Frazier uses the American Civil War’s American history as a metaphor to show us what these people experienced in the mid-1860s. Frazier suggests that people in this time sought to move on from the traumas of the past and looked to the future to make it better. Ada lives a lonely life on the farm of her father, with no prospects. When she sets goals and imagines the future, she begins to heal her past psychological scars. Inman’s “therapy” is provided by Ada in the same way. It is important to remember that healing is not an inevitable process. Ada and Inman continue to live their lives as they desire and work hard to do so. Ada does not allow the loss of Inman to make her feel worse. She enjoys each day at the farm and with her daughter, Inman. Although optimism and looking forward to a better future aren’t always enough for trauma survivors, it is important.