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I am coming home one way or another, and I do not know how things might stand between us. (1.67)
Right here at the beginning, we see that Inman thinks of Cold Mountain as home, and hopes for a life there with Ada. Would he still think of it as home if she doesn't accept him?
Inman's only thought looking on the enemy was, Go home. (1.37)
Sounds like an action movie at first, with a steely-eyed hero growling "Go home." But what if it's doing more than that? Maybe it's Inman's own longing for home appearing in a different way. Maybe he genuinely wants the Federal soldiers to leave him alone and make it back to their own homes in peace.
—You're not yet ready to return home? Sally asked.
—Home? Ada said, momentarily confused, for she had felt all summer that she had none. (2.81-82)
Ada doesn't feel at home on the land she has inherited from her father, and she doesn't feel at home in the Charleston society where she was raised. What would it take for her to feel at home?
She went to him. He stood before the chapel grinning and pointing above the door. She turned and read the sign: Cold Mountain Assembly.
—We have against all odds arrived at home, Monroe had said. (2.133)
Is there any other way to arrive home in this book, besides against all odds?
The fourth time, though, she [Ada in a dream] stood firm and substantial and he held her tight. He [Inman] said, I've been coming for you on a hard road. I'm never letting you go. Never. (5.139)
Do Inman and Ada come to desire each other more because of all the hardships they face separately in the book?
—What are you doing up here? she said aloud to the heron. But she knew by the look of him that his nature was anchorite and mystic. Like all of his kind, he was a solitary pilgrim, strange in his ways and governed by no policy or creed common to flocking birds. Ada wondered that herons could tolerate each other close enough to breed. She had seen a scant number in her life, and those so lonesome as to make the heart sting on their behalf. Exile birds. Everywhere they were seemed far from home. (8.109)
Being alone and being far from home seem pretty related in this quote. Is there some necessary link between homecoming and other people in this book?
Folks would, out of utter contentment, choose to stay home since the failure to do so was patently the root of many ills, current and historic. (10.38)
Is it possible to just stay home in the first place? Or do you always have to find it after a hard journey, literal or metaphorical?
—I take it that she could have been living in a better world, but she ended up fugitive, hiding in the balsams. (10.80)
Here Inman explains why the story the Cherokee woman tells him about trying to get to a place inside the Shining Rocks is so important: he sees it as a story about trying to get to a better world. Is that desire driving his hope to get home throughout the novel?
Men talked of war as if they committed it to preserve what they had and what they believed. But Inman now guessed it was boredom with the repetition of the daily rounds that had made them take up weapons. The endless arc of the sun, wheel of seasons. War took a man out of that circle of regular life and made a season of its own, not much dependent on anything else. […]
So that morning he had looked at the berries and the birds and had felt cheered by them, happy they had waited for him to come to his senses, even though he feared himself deeply at variance with such elements of the harmonious. (11.126)
Is coming home connected to attending to nature and experiencing the rhythms of the seasons and the land you live on? Is war necessarily an experience of being not at home?
She wiped the pen clean on a blotter and dipped again and wrote, Come back to me is my request. She signed her name and folded the paper and addressed it to the hospital in the capital. (13.109)
Can you need someone else to join you before a place is home, however much you might be learning to love it?
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