Study Guide

Cold Mountain Chapter 11

By Charles Frazier

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Chapter 11

The Doing of It

  • Inman is still walking, and the fall is still coming. At least he seems to be getting into the Blue Ridge Mountains, a promising sign.
  • He meets an old woman setting a trap for birds, and asks for directions. She says the road he's on turns to a footpath, but keeps going as far as she knows. It starts to rain, and the woman offers Inman hospitality.
  • When they get close to the woman's home, a caravan, a bunch of goats turn up. One butts Inman, and Inman is so weak that he falls over. He hits the goat with his hat to get it to back off, and starts walking again.
  • The woman kills a goat and starts preparing it for dinner. Eventually she feeds Inman a meal of goat meat and corn flatbread.
  • Inman learns that the woman lives in the caravan because she likes being able to move around, and she says the goats will pull it for her. She also says that she's lived in the same place for twenty-six years, though.
  • She was married long ago to a man who treated her poorly, and she rode away on his best horse, trading it for the caravan and some goats. She's learned how to live on her own.
  • They talk about Inman's war wounds and the war itself. The woman says that owning people is a curse on the land, and that God will free the slaves.
  • She asks if Inman had any slaves, and he says that he didn't, and hardly knew anyone who did. They talk about the war for a while, why people fight or don't. Inman finds her kind and tells her about himself with an openness he rarely shows.
  • The woman treats his wounds and makes something to ease his pain. She gives him some medicine to take along as well.
  • Later in the evening, Inman starts telling the woman about Ada, which surprises him.
  • Inman stays with the woman for a few days. He thinks about her solitary life and recognizes that there's something good about it, but that he would be lonely and sad if he tried it.
  • How many roads must a man walk down? A few more for Inman. Inman eventually realizes he should head on. The woman is not there when he comes to this conclusion, so he waits to say thank you.
  • She tells him to be careful, and talks to him as though she's imagining what it would be like if he were her son. She gives him a drawing of berries as he's leaving.

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