Study Guide for Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns|
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COLD SASSY TREE - FREE BOOKNOTES
The narrator takes advantage of the short train ride to explain Loomis's
background. His last name is "Toy" because his father had been
owned by the Toys, and his first name is actually Annie Mae because his
mother had ten boys and decided the "next" baby was going to
be "Annie Mae no matter what." He works for the Toy family off
and on, participating in whatever they need him to do. Loomis understands
the magnitude of what Will has done better than Will does. He realizes
that the family will be celebrating Will's close call and the fact that
he has been "spared" while Will is only concerned about the
fact that he has tried to go fishing at an unacceptable time. He expects
to be punished. It is noteworthy that Loomis's heroism in rescuing the
dog won't even be discussed.
Will both endures and enjoys being center-stage after his close call.
He expects a scolding, but his parents are too relieved to punish him.
Hoyt does his chores for him, and his mother gets out her good china to
serve the Cold Sassy people who show up with pies and cakes and stop to
chat about Will's adventure. The most prevalent gossip, once Will's welfare
is verified, still revolves around the audacity of Rucker Blakeslee and
Wills "salvation" is important enough to get the family together and to call for the use of the good china. This chapter emphasizes the religious overtones of the town as all of the women talk about how the good Lord saved Will for a significant reason. Each person has a story to tell about themselves or someone else who had a near death experience and devoted his or her life to the church or charity thereafter. Of course, the conversation manages to get around to Rucker and Love and the horror everyone feels about the speedy wedding.
The importance of this chapter is that it characterizes the people of the town and emphasizes the importance of story telling to the sense of community. The rumor-mongering in relation to Rucker and his new bride seems cruel, but in reality is simply the nature of small communities. With nothing else to do, people get their entertainment with talk; such talk is characterized by "remembering" events that are similar to those of everyone else or by exaggerating something that is taking place. While it is malicious enough, it isn't intended to actually drive out members of the most influential family in town, unlike such talk would be if it were directed at the mill people. When something more significant takes place, that talk about Blakeslee will be superceded by talk of the new event.
The town chatter about Miss Love is based more on jealousy than on dislike. The people liked her until she married Blakeslee. But every member of the family has hopes of one day inheriting a piece of Blakeslee's accumulated wealth. For him to marry an outsider poses instant threats to their own assumed status.
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Ruff, Dr. K.. "TheBestNotes on Cold Sassy Tree".
. 09 May 2017