Cold Mountaint Essay, Research Paper
Since Cold Mountain does not heavily rely on dialogue to tell the story, the point of view Frazier uses to narrate the story is important: He must create the effect of being enveloped in two separate worlds, and give insight into characters who have no one to discuss their thoughts with. The only way to accomplish this is by using the omniscient point of view, which is when the author has unlimited knowledge about the characters and their thoughts.
A romantic story is especially suited for this type of narration, because romances revolve not around events, but emotions, which are difficult to describe objectively. To fully appreciate the depth of the love between Ada and Inman, the reader must be able to peer into the deepest thoughts of the characters. Isolation, however, prevents Ada and Inman from revealing these thoughts to each other or to another character. We instead must learn from introspections like the one on pg. 393, when Inman reflects, “…he intended to eat nothing until he found Ada. If she would not have him he would go on to the heights and see if the portals on Shining Rocks would open to him…He doubted there was a man in the world more empty than he at the moment.” Intimate insights such as this one are frequent in the novel, and reveal the most information about Ada and Inman’s feelings for each other.
This unlimited power to inform is used also to directly characterize Inman and especially Ada; due to the relative calm of her life on the farm, we are left with few morally testing situations from which the reader could make a profile of her character. One description of Ada on pg. 143 reads, “Ada now remembered that as she walked through the house to go upstairs, she had been struck by the figure of a woman’s back in the mirror…Ada stood, held in place by a sharp stitch of envy for the woman’s dress and the fine shape of her back…. Then Ada took a step forward, and realized it was herself she was admiring… As she lay awake she thought how odd it had felt to win her own endorsement.” Even this seemingly insignificant anecdote can speak volumes in terms of characterization, which is most likely why it was included in the book.
Also incorporated into the omniscient point of view is the way Frazier switches viewpoints from Ada to Inman, alternating from chapter to chapter. Both plotlines are kept independent of each other until the final stages in the book, when Ada and Inman finally reunite. With each character in their own isolated world, Frazier can describe the process of their growth side by side, thereby overcoming the challenges posed by their separation.
Cold Mountain’s strength lies in its articulate and heartfelt description and thoughtful characterization, owing to the author’s unlimited power to inform the reader about any character’s deepest feelings and inclinations. By telling Cold Mountain in the omniscient point of view, Frazier has freedom to provide the reader detailed and rich accounts of the characters’ innermost thoughts and desires.