Study Guide for Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns|
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COLD SASSY TREE - BOOK SUMMARY / NOTES
Grandpa's parade was an "in your face" gesture intended to recall and glorify the Confederacy. The postmaster, who was required to fly a US flag, dropped it to half-mast, and everyone in town lined the streets and waved Confederate flags. The old Confederate soldiers marched and re-enacted Civil War battles, but in their imagination, they won.
The Blakeslee family cannot attend the parade because they are still
officially in "mourning," and it wouldn't do to be celebrating
so soon after Granny's death. Instead, they sit on the porch of the Tweedy
house and watch it from a short distance.
Will decides that if Grandpa can get married, they must be out of mourning, which should mean that he can go fishing. On the way to his fishing spot, Will describes a few more of the town people, especially his own friends. Failing to find a buddy to fish with, he settles for just TR, his dog and proceeds to the favorite fishing hole at Cussin' Creek. The creek runs under the railroad tracks, which in turn lie close to the Cold Sassy tree, a sassafras tree for which the town is named. As Will steps aside to wait for a train to pass, he remembers Queenie's husband Loomis saying that fish are biting "real good" under the trestle and Blind Tillie Creek. Realizing it is too hot for the fish to be biting at Cussin' Creek, Will proceeds to Blind Tillie Creek. This means he will have to go past the depot as well as past his own house and Grandpa's store without being seen. He will also have to go through Mill Town, which he has never done alone.
Will nearly abandons the idea, but then remembers that he might see
Lightfoot McLendon, a mill girl who has attended his school. Will walks
beside the train, keeping it between himself and the town, and in this
way gets past the stores, the stable, the tanyard, the cotton gin and
nearly to Mill Town before the entire train has passed him. At first,
he hopes to see Lightfoot, but as the Mill Town people stare venomously
at him, he begins to hope he won't see her and simply makes his way to
the trestle. There he spends a little time fishing, but feels so guilty
about it that he doesn't enjoy it and soon gives it up.
Some narrative spacing gives us a look at the town and shows the distance between the town people and the mill people who are considered low class and not worth associating with. Will takes advantage of a day when nothing is supposed to be happening, other than folks sitting around in mourning clothes and waiting on callers, to relate the details behind the town's name and to describe the families of some of his friends. Most of his boyhood pals are children of tenant farmers or small landowners, but they live on the opposite end of town from the mill people. Will seems to understand in some intuitive way that the mill people aren't bad people in spite of the attitude of the town "aristocrats" that the mill people are unworthy of association.
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Ruff, Dr. K.. "TheBestNotes on Cold Sassy Tree".
. 09 May 2017