That blood may be lost, but the scar endures.
Charles Frazier, throughout his novel Cold Mountain, employs many allusions to the classic Greek epic The Odyssey, with specific intent of adjoining the two pieces of literature with particular regard for an allegory with scars. Frazier’s text establishes a connection to the epic through a flourish of references both explicit and opaque, however one of the more tender allusions within the two works beholds this regard to the scars worn by both male protagonists: Inman and Odysseus. Both Homer and Frazier tighten the relationship between the scars of their two major characters, extending the marks each characters bears to be an identifier for the history both men have endured.
First, Homer in his original epic includes his scar motif within some of the very last lines within the text. During the last book of the epic, Odysseus travels to his father Laertes, who has aged prematurely out of grief for his son. Odysseus, upon his arrival, realizes that Laertes is unable to recognize him and fronts that he is just an old friend of Odysseus. Yet when Laertes begins to cry, Odysseus reveals himself, ensuing the following conversation:
Laertes, catching his breath found, found words to answer.
“You---you’re truly my son, Odysseus, home at last?
Give me a sign, some proof---I must be sure.”
“This scar first,”
quick to the mark, his son said, “look at this---
the wound I took from the boar’s white tusk
on Mount Parnassus… (Homer, XXIV 365-70)
Homer, rather simply no...
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...ly, through Inman’s scars, the reader is able to understand the history and trauma at which he underwent during his time spent in the war and the journey home after. Through his scarring process, it remains apparent to the reader that Inman truly does pursue to reclaim his humanity throughout the novel and eventually it is Inman’s humanity which acts as his fatal flaw by the final chain of events.
In conclusion, both Homer and Frazier deliberately use scars within their works to heighten their texts and provide readers a means to better understand their characters. Through both Odysseus’ scar from the boar and Inman’s scar of war, each character ably regards his scar as an identifier for the man he has grown into. The blood from battle or boar or war is gone now, but, more importantly, the story and the memory and the relic that is his scar remains inherent within.
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