Cold Mountain Analysis
On the surface, Cold Mountain is the tale of a man trying to find his way home. However, once looked at in more detail, it is seen as a story of a man looking for faith. From the very first step, Inman’s journey is one of faith, a faith that he has lost in the Civil War and is on the road to recovering. We know little of Inman’s life prior to his journey, but what we do learn tells us that he was at one point a Christian. In his youth he had been taught, and he believed in, the basics of the Christian faith.
Specifically, he believed in heaven, the immortality of soul, and that we are all children of God. Cold Mountain is the story of a man who has undergone a traumatic experience, the likes of which has stolen away from him all optimism and hope for a better tomorrow. However, as Inman plans to step out the window of the hospital and begin his journey home, his faith in God seems to wither away. The horrors of what he has experienced in the war have “burned away” (page 36) his Christian faith. He no longer believes in the easy answers to the problems of life given by Christians.
His faith is further questioned when he meets Veasey, the preacher who has impregnated his lover and who attempts to murder her in order to cover it up. Even after Veasey is discovered and thrown out of town, claiming to be a changed man through God, his life does not show evidence of this. He goes on to rob a store and sleep with a prostitute. Upon these activities, Inman states that many preachers are just like Veasey. They claim to be able to save the worst of sinners, and yet can’t save themselves. This hypocritical lifestyle was a major contributing factor to Inman losing his faith.
Inman’s spiritual struggle is not merely a battle with his own inner demons. Inman’s main struggle is with God himself, claiming to feel like an abused child of God. In a conversation with a blind man, he was stunned to discover that no person had put out the man’s eyes. He had been born that way. He then asked himself, “How did you find someone to hate for a thing that just was? “. (page 82) Throughout this story, we learn that when faced with situations like this Inman blames God. He holds God responsible for the way things are.
For example, when Inman travels through the woods and sees a meteor shower, he is convinced that it has been aimed at him. He looks at any unfortunate situation as a deliberate attempt by God to bring him pain. Throughout Cold Mountain, Inman faces many obstacles that question his faith. Having lost it from the beginning, these obstacles only further convince him that God is not now or ever looking out for him. Only after facing all of these obstacles does he finally find redemption in his faith through the trials of life.