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How effective are the opening chapters of "Cold Mountain"?

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Introduction

How effective are the opening chapters of "Cold Mountain"? Comment on: Characters, Language, Narrative/structural devices, Setting, Themes and Symbols The first two chapters of the novel are effective in establishing the basis of the story in terms of the plot (including setting), the main characters and any other characters that affect them and themes which will be continued and developed throughout the novel. During this essay I will discuss how each of these factors makes the first chapters effective. The first few pages effectively establish the setting of Inman's story. By describing Inman's daily routine we can clearly see how and where Inman has been living the past weeks of his life allowing the reader to build up a picture of the setting. Frazier does not simply describe how the ward looks in a long descriptive passage, instead, details about the conditions and appearance of the hospital ward are included only when Inman is describing what he does to pass the time e.g. we are indirectly told about the conditions of the ward when Inman is playing a game "Inman could cock back on the chair's hind legs and count the flies...he made it to be sixty three". This effectively shows the reader that although Inman is in a hospital the conditions in which he is living could cause infections to be worse. In the same way we are told about the dampness which has the effect of making the reader feel sympathy and disbelief that men who were fighting for their country would be allowed to "survive" in such conditions - "so damp it caused fresh sheets to sour under him". ...read more.

Middle

Although she dreams of Monroe calling to her, Ada seems more affected by the vision she sees in the well and perhaps this is a way to effectively show the reader that Ada and Inman are linked on a spiritual level, and can sense through deep love, each other's movements. QUOTE This visualization foreshadows Inman's return. However, it also represents journeying or pilgrimage, an idea to which characters in the novel frequently return. This idea is reinforced by the hymn "Wayfaring Stranger" that haunts Ada's mind. The war is effectively described with both graphic language to show the horrors of the war, but also with different tones, to show the effect the war has had on Inman. We are also introduced to the setting via structural devices - i.e. the window. The window is an effective way of Inman describing what he can see outside, to give the reader an idea of the weather, and the view, but also it allows Inman to remember the past. The blind man also works as both a structural and narrative device in that he prompts Inman to talk about the war specifically a battle that he wishes most he had not seen i.e. the battle at Fredericksburg. QUOTE This is effective as due to Inman talking to the blind man, the reader can see what went on during the war rather than simply describing a battle as it went on. This means that the chapter does not focus on the Civil War generally but instead Inman's personal experiences of war which allows us to build up a picture of how he feels about the war and how he is affected. ...read more.

Conclusion

Ada is filled with a desire to return home, or at least to discover where home might be. Like Inman, Ada is setting out on a journey, although she has little sense of identity or purpose. Ada surveys her land three times in this chapter, suggesting a budding relationship between her and the landscape. She recognizes that there is something rooting her to the farm. Her friendship with the Swangers, the memories of her father's happiness at Cold Mountain, and her own sense of security on the farm (which she feels when she hides within the boxwood and reads beside the wall in the upper pasture) make a strong impact on Ada. Frazier suggests that his female protagonist has a special connection to "her woods, her ridges, her creek." Ada's vision in the well also encourages her to stay at the farm; it suggests she is awaiting someone's arrival. Although she dreams of Monroe calling to her, Ada seems more affected by the vision she sees in the well. This visualization foreshadows Inman's return. However, it also represents journeying or pilgrimage, an idea to which characters in the novel frequently return. This idea is reinforced by the hymn "Wayfaring Stranger" that haunts Ada's mind. Just as Inman sets out on his journey back home, so Ada tentatively takes her first steps towards living an independent life at the farm. Ruby acts a foil for Ada. She is knowledgeable about nature and has an innate understanding of the way things work, while Ada is "filled with opinions on art and politics." Ruby, meanwhile, displays an outward authority that equals Ada's, though she is illiterate and plainspoken. Frazier shows throughout the novel how Ada and Ruby's relationship is based on terms of mutual respect and understanding, despite their obvious differences. Michelle Bailey 12N/R 2200 2833 ...read more.

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