Study Guide

Cold Mountain Epilogue

By Charles Frazier

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October of 1874

  • Remember how the Epilogue to Harry Potter answers all those questions you have about who married whom, what they do for a living, what their kids are like, and so on? So does this one. Kind of.
  • Actually, this one answers almost no questions directly. The reader is left to figure a lot of it out from the tantalizing bits of information Frazier does give us. But he gives enough for us to make some pretty good bets.
  • We do know the Epilogue is set ten years later than the rest of the book, in 1874.
  • The Epilogue also tells us that the boy who escaped when Pangle and Stobrod were shot never went back home to Georgia. His name is Reid and he stayed on the farm and eventually married Ruby. They have three children together, and they still like to smooch after all these years.
  • Ada is celebrating the fall with a last picnic in October. Chickens are barbecuing. Yum. Ruby and Reid's boys are playing and quarreling.
  • October sure is beautiful near Cold Mountain this year. Ada is just admiring it.
  • The narrator tells us that a tall girl who's nine is coming out from the kitchen with Ruby. Wait. Ruby only has boys, so who is this?
  • Stobrod comes up from the barn, and he's actually been milking. Looks like maybe he took to honest work after all, even if it took him fifty years. He dips out milk for the children—sounds like a good grandfather.
  • After dinner, everyone settles in around a bonfire and Stobrod plays a jig.
  • The tall girl is playing with a burning stick until Ada tells her to stop. She says "But Mama," and Ada shakes her head (Epilogue.10). The girl kisses her cheek, and then throws the stick back into the fire.
  • So we know Ada has a daughter. Who's nine years old. Frazier never tells us, but we'd say it's a good bet she's Inman's daughter too.
  • Stobrod leads a Gospel song called "Angel Band." It's about being carried away on the wings of angels.
  • Then the children ask for a story. Ada opens the book to read to them. She has some difficulty opening to the page because she lost the tip of her right index finger doing farm work a few years before.
  • Ruby treated it and it healed "so neatly you would think that was the way the ends of people's fingers were meant to look." We're betting that's a symbol, of what it means to heal well from something but still live with the loss (Epilogue.12).
  • Ada reads the story of Baucis and Philemon, the tale of a husband and wife who were blessed by the gods and lived a long, happy life together (more on this in the "Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory" section). At the end of their lives, they turn into trees.
  • We're left to piece together that Inman died ten years ago, and that Ada thinks of him as she reads this story. It's tragic, because they are not together. But maybe it's hopeful, too, because the tale of Baucis and Philemon is about a love that grows past the end of life.

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