Greetings Cosmic Americans!
So for the second installment of the Cold Mountain review I give you W. P. Inman, or just Inman, if you like.
Inman is what you might expect of a typical Confederate soldier. He does not own slaves, he is a young man, he is a skilled laborer. While he does not seem to have any particular attachment to southern nationalism - if (and when) the war breaks out - he fights...I suppose because it is what everybody else does.
But Inman soon sours on the war - primarily because he realizes (as do all others in the film) that this is a war fought by the working man to protect the rich man's slave. And there you have it in all its simplistic glory: a rich man's war and a poor man's fight.
Seriously, that argument is so tired and cliche that I am surprised anybody still gives it two hours of their valuable time. The truth is, Inman would have had a stake in preserving slavery as well, even though he was not a slaveholder himself. Why you ask?
Well, for one, in a society such that he lived, Inman always stood the chance of one day owning a slave (or more than one) himself - and thereby climbing the social ladder to the upper classes. This "worker of wood" could have expanded his trade and really carved out a nice life for himself in North Carolina. In a democracy, social mobility is a big deal - something that could have been very appealing indeed.
But even if he were not so ambitious, the institution of slavery meant that Inman always stood above another class of people in a stratified society. Not to mention, with slavery intact, he would never have to compete with an entire group of workers who could potentially under bid his labor.
My guess - in the real world of 1860, Inman would have been very happy to support a slave-holding republic, with all that that encompassed.