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Study Guide for Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

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COLD SASSY TREE - ONLINE STUDY GUIDE

CHAPTER 3

Summary

Will expresses the family concerns regarding where Grandpa would live after Granny was gone. He can't live with Loma because of Loma's cats and Will knows that his mother really doesn't want him to live with them. So, he can't understand why everyone is so upset over the idea of Grandpa finding someone to marry.

Will spends the day bemoaning the fact that he is in mourning and can't have any fun. Normal activities like fishing and hanging out with his friends are off limits. That evening his father Hoyt Tweedy comes home with the announcement that Grandpa has already left with Miss Love Simpson in his buggy. They have gone to Jefferson to get married. Mary Willis reacts angrily, saying that Miss Love will try to get the house and everything Grandpa owns. The thought is sobering to Will, but he realizes that the picture just doesn't fit his grandfather. Rucker cares about his grown daughters and believes a man ought to do right by his family.

Mary Willis imagines all sorts of low-class backgrounds for Love. She calls her father selfish, saying he and Loma are two of a kind, both only looking out for themselves. Will recalls that the only reason Loma married Campbell Williams was because Rucker refused to let her run off with a traveling Shakespeare company and become an actor.

Notes

This chapter begins a more detailed contrast between Loma and Rucker. Loma is a great deal like her father in that she wants the things she thinks will make her happy regardless of the consequences. She is jealous because her father has the influence and family authority to be able to do what he wants regardless of what people think while she is bound by both his restrictions on her and on her own fear of scandal. Also, Loma wanted to pursue dreams beyond what opportunities this small southern town could provide and spends a life in bitterness because those things are denied to her.

Mary Willis is also characterized as a little bit two-faced. She loves her sister, but doesn't think as highly of her as she lets on to her face. Not only that, but it is ironic that she criticizes Loma for wanting something better out of life when she herself has a life of comfort; she has a servant, which Loma does not, two bathrooms in what seems to be a rather nice house, and appears to want for little. Yet, she considers her father, who provided most of it for her, self-centered, and finds fault with Loma because she would like a little of the same.


CHAPTER 4

Summary

Will describes Grandpa. The man is 59 and still has all his teeth. He uses glasses only to read and is still strong, straight and taller than most men of the town. He is a Democrat, a Baptist and a Confederate veteran who claims to have lost one arm in the war. He also likes his whisky-in spite of prohibition laws-and likes to play practical jokes. Will admires his grandfather and wants to be like him in certain ways, but not all ways. For example, he wants to be a farmer someday, not a town merchant, even though his grandfather has treated him like a son and involved him in the store since he could walk.


Will explains some details of some of the other family members. His father Hoyt makes most of the buying trips for the store, and his Uncle Lige Toy owns a cotton warehouse in north Georgia. Hopewell Stump is a cousin to Hoyt and takes care of chickens that folks use as barter for store goods. Every Friday he ships the pullets off to Athens or Atlanta.

Campbell Williams came to Cold Sassy from Maysville, Georgia at the age of 19. He appeared tired and lazy and Rucker refused to give him a job until after he had married Loma. Even so, he is more or less useless and mostly sweeps the floor and stocks shelves.

Love Simpson is the first woman Rucker ever hired. She had never married but didn't exactly look like an old maid. Will describes her as "tall, plump, and big-bosomed." She was lively and wore fashionable clothes, had a "sparkly way of talking and laughed a lot." Will's noticed her "perfume" and freckles, her "grey-blue eyes, long black lashes, titled-up nose and big smiley mouth" the first time he met her. It had pleased him that she called his grandfather a "very nice man and good-looking, too." He also notices how "proper" Love talks, similar to his Aunt Carrie who had been taught to speak proper grammar in a private school run by a French woman. Love comes to Cold Sassy when Rucker contacts a company in Baltimore, asking for a milliner (a person who designs and/or makes hats) for his store.

Some people in town referred to Miss Love as "that Yankee woman," and her arrival immediately sparks rivalry with Loma who considered herself the fashion consultant of the town. Nevertheless, nearly everyone liked Love-at least until she married Grandpa Blakeslee.

Notes

The narrator characterizes both Rucker and Miss Love from his own perspective. He notices the minor-but close and personal details-that would be noticed by a teenager, but probably ignored, or at least not discussed, among adults. The important thing about his grandfather isn't that he has money, which Will probably takes for granted anyway, but that he has all his teeth and still stands straight and is good looking. Those things alone tell the reader that he has enough money to take care of himself properly as luxuries such as dental care would have been unavailable to the poor. He hasn't had to work overly hard, so he hasn't developed a stooped appearance from the onset of back problems. Yet, he is a man of contradictions-a Baptist, confederate, and Democrat who successfully defied even the laws of prohibition.

As for Miss Love, the narrator takes note of the things a young boy in the throes of puberty would notice-her generous bosom, her scent, and her seductively attractive eyes, and friendly smile. She uses proper grammar, a mark of education and suggestive of a higher class background than Mary Willis gives her credit for. She is also fairly young and has all the characteristics that would create the typical "older woman" crush in a teenage boy.

 

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