Study Guide

Cold Mountain Chapter 10

By Charles Frazier

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Chapter 10

In Place of the Truth

  • Ruby and Ada are setting up a fence. Unsurprisingly, we also find out that Ruby is totally like the Horse Whisperer.
  • Ruby finds an old animal trap, the size to catch beavers. She thinks it will solve the problem they're having with the corncrib; some creature has been stealing from it, and none of their other efforts to stop it have worked.
  • They set the trap, wrapping the spikes with sacking. If the corn thief is human, that will protect him or her from terrible injury.
  • Ruby goes off to trade with Esco and tells Ada to put up a scarecrow in the winter garden while she's gone.
  • Ada is relieved to have only the pleasant task of making the scarecrow to do for the moment. No tin man or cowardly lion, though.
  • Ada takes some of her father's old clothes and is about to make a scarecrow from them, and then she realizes that it will be difficult for her to see a scarecrow that reminds her of her father.
  • Ada eventually decides to use the mauve silk dress that she wore to the party on her last trip to Charleston before the war. She knows Ruby will feel that they could have recycled the fabric in some more efficient manner, but she wants to look out and see the dress in the field. Ada gives the scarecrow flowers to carry and makes a nice sketch of it.
  • Ruby comes back from trading, and they bury most of the cabbages to preserve them through the winter. Ada finds this troubling; it reminds her of burying people.
  • Ada and Ruby sit on the porch, Ada braiding Ruby's hair (Ruby has already done hers—they're having a friendly contest as to who can make the best braid). They notice that Ada's scarecrow is working.
  • Ada is not satisfied with the braid she made in Ruby's hair, but Ruby is very impressed and says she's won the contest. They read a bit of A Midsummer Night's Dream while there's still some evening light.
  • Ada looks at Inman's letter, which she's read five times that day, trying to make sense of it. Inman seems clear in it on how he feels about her, but she isn't as sure that they've come to anything clear. He had asked her in the past not to speculate on what their relationship might be like after the war, since everything was so uncertain.
  • Ada ponders the many uncertainties of the letter: when it was sent, whether Inman is coming home now or at the end of the war, if he's all right, etc. It's enough to drive a girl crazy!
  • Inman has asked Ada not to look at the photograph he sent near the beginning of the war, since he no longer resembles it; but Ada thinks it was never that good a picture of him anyway, so she's not worried about that. She does look.
  • She remembers their last walk together before the war. Inman had reached out to kiss her and accidentally knocked off the brooch she was wearing, into a creek. Bad luck, dude. He had rescued the brooch, but didn't know how to recover the moment.
  • Inman had told her that if he were shot to death in the war, in five years she'd hardly remember his name. She had said it wasn't that way, but also wondered in her heart if anything is remembered forever.
  • He told her a story he learned from a Cherokee woman who claimed to be 135 years old and to remember a time before white people came to the area.
  • This story sounds like a digression, but it's one of the central symbols of the whole book. It tells the tale of a village named Kanuga. A man they don't know comes and says he lives in a nearby town and is their relative.
  • They're surprised, since they really don't know him, and he claims to live in a town on a part of Cold Mountain that has no village.
  • He says that it does have a village, and the Shining Rocks are the gateposts to it. He says it's a different kind of land, where there's peace between people. There's still death, and still a need to get food, but there isn't war and contention.
  • He invites the village to join him there, but says they have to go seven days without food and without raising a war cry to be able to see it. If they do that, the Shining Rocks will open like a doorway and let them into the land the stranger is talking about.
  • The people talk it over and decide they want to go. They all fast. Well, all except one. Yep, you know where this is going. The one dude cheating on the deal keeps all the people from going to the better world.
  • A door opens in the side of the mountain, and they can see the beautiful land within, but they get locked out because of that one dude who didn't fast.
  • It's not too long after that that the US government forcibly relocates the Cherokee, and the village loses everything it had.
  • It's a really tragic story, but it means a lot to Inman. Maybe there is a possibility of reaching a better life somehow, even if it's hard, and the story seems to give him hope for that.
  • Ada kind of misses the point of the story at first. Ada's misunderstanding here makes it awkward, and they stay awkward as they say their goodbyes.
  • Ada feels bad that evening, so she gets Monroe to take her into town the next day. She goes to see Inman, and they have a talk. At first it doesn't go so well, but it gets better. They have a last kiss.
  • The chapter ends with a sobering thought: they expected to see each other again in a few months, and the war has now dragged on for years.

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