Study Guide

Cold Mountain Chapter 15

By Charles Frazier

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Chapter 15

A Vow to Bear

  • Doesn't this game ever change levels? Inman's still walking through Mountain Country.
  • He finds a woman mourning the death of her child. Inman helps to make a casket and bury the child.
  • The woman says she ought to feed him, but she doesn't have it in her. She gives him a generous portion of food and even some soap to take with him. He thanks her and starts to leave, but she says that she won't be able to remember the day with peace unless she cooks for him.
  • He makes a fire, and she cooks him steak and eggs with cornmeal and butter. Cardiologists are probably crying right about now, but it's got to be a feast for Inman.
  • Inman is profoundly grateful, and feels like the meal needs a blessing. He can't remember one, so the woman says a very simple one and he repeats it, and then eats.
  • The woman shows him a picture of her family, all dead now except for her. Inman says he's sorry that happened.
  • Inman goes on his way and sleeps outside again.
  • Inman reads some more Bartram one night, and realizes the bit he's reading describes the area around Cold Mountain.
  • Inman finds the skeletons of several hanged men at once place where he stops for water. Yikes! One day Inman wakes up at dawn to find a bear nearby.
  • The bear has poor sight, but seems to be trying to find Inman.
  • Inconveniently, he took a vow never to shoot a bear again after having a dream in the trenches of Petersburg that he became a black bear.
  • Ominously, that series of dreams ended with Inman-the-bear getting shot by hunters, hung from a tree, and skinned.
  • He still woke up feeling that bears were especially important to him, and he might learn something valuable from them. That's why he gave up on shooting them.
  • The bear seems nervous, and Inman is worried that she'll get upset with him. This is particularly bad because he's near a cliff edge. Even though he knows the bear is likely to make a fake charge, where she isn't actually aiming for him, just trying to scare him, he's worried because he doesn't really have anywhere to go.
  • He talks to her to keep her calm. She does false charge him, and he steps slightly aside, and she accidentally goes over the cliff.
  • Inman is sad because he was trying not to hurt the bear. He thinks that even his best intentions come to nothing.
  • The baby bear is an orphan. It's too young to take care of itself, and will die of starvation without its mother. Inman wants to take it with him, but he knows he can't. Feeling there's no other option, he shoots the cub. Then he cooks the meat so as not to waste it. This isn't such a great morning for bears or Inman.
  • As the morning comes, Inman has a growing joy in spite of the sad story he's just been part of. He's getting closer and closer to home. He realizes he can finally see Cold Mountain. This is majorly good news.
  • Inman begins to hope for a better life in his home, now that he can see it.
  • He eats some bear meat, feeling regret. Nothing seems to be perfect for our hero.

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