Study Guide

Esco and Sally Swanger in Cold Mountain

By Charles Frazier

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Esco and Sally Swanger

Esco and Sally Swanger are the people everyone wants as neighbors. They're hardworking, generous, kind, and steady. And they have the practical smarts to run a farm well. They're like a favorite aunt and uncle.

They've got a sense of humor, and Esco pranks Ada's father when Monroe underestimates the knowledge of his new neighbors. Monroe's a preacher, so he tells Esco the story of Christ's death and resurrection. This is the central religious narrative for a lot of people in the American South in this time period, so thinking Esco doesn't know it is a little like assuming he hasn't heard of gravity or George Washington. Esco plays along, and Monroe has no idea that Esco is already a Christian. The story makes Monroe a laughingstock in the area for a while.

But Esco is also kind. When Monroe apologizes, Esco and Sally soon start attending his church, and they build a friendship with Monroe and Ada. After Monroe's death, they provide advice and practical help to Ada. They're the closest thing she has to parents.

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