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Symbolism and Foreshadowing in Cold Mountain

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Symbolism and Foreshadowing in Cold Mountain Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent or portray ideas in a story or novel. Foreshadowing is the use of clues in a story to suggest what is going to happen later on. These two literary devices often work together because authors use symbols to foreshadow future events. In his novel, Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier constantly utilizes the literary device duo of symbolism and foreshadowing. Frazier uses the symbols of crows, Cold Mountain, and the colors of black and white to not only represent ideas, but to foreshadow events to come. The crow, seen multiple times throughout the novel, is an ambiguous symbol. Its symbolism is twofold. Crows are thought to be mischievous and clever, resourceful and opportunistic, and in Cold Mountain, they are ever present. For Ruby, crows are a symbol of independence, wisdom and survival: “She noted with disapproval that many a bird would die rather than eat any but food it relishes. Crows will relish what presents itself” (Frazier 176). For Ruby, crows symbolize life and how to survive in nature. Inman also sees crows as a symbol of independence and freedom. He envies them because they are free from the constraints that the world imposes on humans. On the other hand, crows symbolize a more sinister side to life. Throughout Inman’s travels, he encounters many difficulties. Crows seem to accompany all of these worst moments. Inman remembers seeing crows during the war and at Junior’s place before he was taken by the Guard. As the presence of crows symbolizes doom and destruction, Frazier is foreshadowing Inman’s death at the end of the book. Furthermore, crows are even present at Inman’s death: “He drifted in and out and dreamed a bright dream of a home…There were white oaks and a great number of crows, or at least the spirits of crows, dancing and singing in the upper limbs” (Frazier 445). Frazier uses crows throughout the novel to symbolize life and to symbolize and foreshadow death.
The title of the novel presents the reader with Frazier’s most profound symbol, Cold Mountain itself. This is where Ada is and where Inman is trying to get back to. The symbol of Cold Mountain is distant, aloof, and solid. Cold Mountain is, first and foremost, the literal geography that Inman longs for. It offers Inman a permanence and security that he yearns and hopes for. However, it is also a symbol a spiritual sanctuary for Inman, a place where harmony and health might be restored and where he can put the brutality and disappointments of the world behind him:
He thought of getting home and building him a cabin on Cold Mountain so high that no soul but the nighthawks passing through the clouds in autumn could hear his sad cry…And if Ada would go with him, there might be hope…that in time his despair might be honed off to a point so fine and thin that it would be nearly the same as vanishing. (Frazier 85)
However, it is also a symbol and a foreshadowing of Inman’s death. Ironically, Inman escapes death at war and on the road, just to be killed at home on Cold Mountain. It is a symbol that reconciles opposites; of past and future, as well as creation and destruction. Cold Mountain is the place where Inman is from, and after surviving the war, the place where he goes and dies. The use of the colors black and white as symbols can be seen in multiple representations, therefore Frazier also uses them to foreshadow different things. Throughout the novel, the color white is used as a symbol of purity, innocence and goodness, while the color black is used as a symbol of death, destruction and evil. On the other hand, the color white is also used as a symbol of lack of life and the color black is used as a symbol associated with nature and life. The color white as a symbol of purity and goodness appears in forms such as Ada’s clothing and the chapel: “Below her she could see the river and the road, and to her right—a fleck of white in the general green—the chapel” (Frazier 51). The color white as a symbol, especially in the form of the chapel, represents the love that Ada and Inman found there and thus foreshadows the reunion and rekindling of this love. The color white as a symbol of lack of life can be seen with Frazier describes Birch, the man who killed Inman: “He looked white in the face and even whiter in crescents under his eyes. He was a little wormy blond thing…Face blank” (Frazier 444). Here, instead of symbolizing goodness, the color white symbolizes a lack of life and feeling, emptiness. The white snow on the ground symbolizes a lack of life in winter and foreshadows Inman’s death for Inman is killed in the snow.
Frazier uses the color black to symbolize death and destruction through his imagery of the war, the darkness in which the Guard tries to attack, and the color of the crows. The color black also foreshadows death. The darkness in which Veasey tries to kill Laura foreshadows the darkness in which Veasey is later killed. Also, the black of the crows foreshadows Inman’s death. However, Frazier also uses black as a symbol of nature and life. The color black is prominent on Cold Mountain. Frazier uses the color to describe rivers, dirt, trees, people in black, black moods, crows, and other birds: “They were set at uneven intervals down the bank of the creek, which was deep and strong and black…” (Frazier 388). Inman feels a kinship with the black bear he encounters on his journey, and Ada feels hope after her vision of the black figure in the well. Frazier uses black to symbolize living things, even if they are evil or suffering. The color black symbolizes the substance of the earth. In this case, the color black foreshadows the life Ada creates on Cold Mountain. From the beginning Frazier described her land with the color black and eventually she makes Black Cove into a thriving farm. Symbols play a powerful role in Cold Mountain. The use of symbolism in the novel not only represents ideas but also foreshadows events. Charles Frazier uses the symbols of the crow, Cold Mountain, and the colors of black and white to represent deeper meanings and ideas, and foreshadow the future events of the novel.…...

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