On Inman, Ulysses McGill and Candide

Essay by pa_perron May 2004

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While other complex issues such as love, and the effects of war on the individual's psyche and heart are explored in the film "Cold Mountain," the thread that ties the main character's overall experience in the film together, and the film's most easily visible theme, is that of Inman's journey back home to Carolina from his post in the civil war. After fighting in the civil war and seeing the utter destruction of human life that war is, he chooses instead to leave the army illegally in order to return home to see his true love.

Inman is, unlike the intellectuals and almost con man personalities of Candide and Ulysses McGill, a simple man. He does not pose to be anything he is not. He is a man who only talks when he has something to say. Hardened by war, his warm inner self is surrounded by a tough exterior, perhaps developed as a defense mechanism against the circumstances he found himself in.

He is a man with a strong moral code, with a strong sense of right and wrong, untainted by over-intellectualizing life's events through philosophy, as Pangloss, Candide, and McGill do. He takes swift action in helping those in need, and doesn't hesitate in using violence when necessary, except for at the very end of the film, in which his only hesitation to use violence turns out to be a fatal one. For example, he would never, as Pangloss did, hesitate in saving a man from drowning or from dying under a pile of rubble as that was what was "meant to be" as everything "is for the best." He acts swiftly and with conviction. He is a simple, real man. He sees the world as it is without seeing it through a cloud of philosophy...