Study Guide

Stobrod Thewes in Cold Mountain

Stobrod Thewes

Stobrod is not the man you want to hire. Actually, he's not really the man you want to be your dad, either, but Ruby doesn't have much choice in the matter.

He's as lazy as they come, barely doing enough work to eat. He does seem motivated to go to parties, though. He's like the bad stereotype of a frat boy. We even learn that his laziness caused a neighbor to lose a leg—Stobrod wasn't expecting that to happen when he walked out on his job, but it's still pretty awful. No wonder he can't get work, even if he happened to want it.

By the time the story starts, he's gone off to fight in the war, and Ruby thinks he may be dead. Stobrod turns up partway through the story, having deserted the army. Ruby doesn't think very kindly of him, but she does give him some food and support.

One other strange thing has happened after his stint in the army: Stobrod has discovered something he's willing to work at: music, which he always did a little bit of, but not very well. But during the war he was asked to play for a dying girl. The music made such a difference to her that Stobrod began to take it seriously.

The experience changed some other things about him, too. He seems to care more about his daughter, and he's kind to his friend Pangle. Pangle has significant learning difficulties and isn't well-treated by a lot of people, but he and Stobrod find a friendship through music.

That doesn't mean Stobrod is fully reformed. He still doesn't do much of what Ruby would call useful work, and he still sort of expects Ruby to take care of him. But he's definitely changed. Ada puts it best when she thinks about Stobrod: "[…] no matter what a waste one has made of one's life, it is ever possible to find some path to redemption, however partial" (12.108).

Eventually, the Home Guard finds Stobrod and Pangle and brutally shoots them. Astonishingly, Stobrod survives this. We see a bit of his recovery but not much, because the book ends abruptly when the Home Guard shoots Inman not long after.

But in the Epilogue, Stobrod is still around, and now living on the farm with Ruby and Ada and their families. Is it possible he's changed even more? Looks like it, because Stobrod's even done the milking and is handing out milk to his grandchildren (Epilogue.8). He's still playing the fiddle and singing Gospel songs, too. We don't know too much about his current life, but it looks like a surprisingly good one.