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Study Guide for Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

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Will forgets that he promised to pick berries with Lightfoot. Instead he picks vegetables for his mother, then, with orders from Grandpa, goes to Grandpa's house to help Miss Love with house cleaning. He is rather taken aback at all the changes, seeing them almost as an insult to his grandmother's housekeeping. A greater surprise, however, is likely to come from the town when the people see that Grandpa has allowed Love to cut his hair and shave off his beard.


Part of this chapter involves an intended interview with Toddy Hughes who writes for the Atlanta paper. When Son Black shows up and inquires about after the whereabouts of Rucker, the conversation turns to the recent wedding, and the interview is cut short. Will regrets the fact that he forgot about his promise to Lightfoot, although he couldn't have gone anyway, and would have no way of contacting Lightfoot to tell her.

It also bothers him that he never told Toddy about Lightfoot coming out on the tracks with him or about Loomis rescuing the dog. He knows, however, that since Loomis is black, Toddy probably wouldn't have put that in the paper anyway, and since his friends would have made dirty remarks about Lightfoot, it's probably better that he didn't mention her. The incident is a comment on the various prejudices of the town that they all simply take for granted.



Will helps Love sort through some of his grandmother's belongings. Most things she plans to send to Mary Willis or Loma. She keeps a Civil War picture of horses and the confederate medal which belongs to Grandpa. She explains that she plans to make the guest room her room, and it dawns on Will that she and Grandpa are not sleeping in the same room. This proves to him that Grandpa was not flirting with Love while Grandma was still alive, but it's a secret that he thinks he will have to keep to himself in order to prevent rumors and "snickers" from starting.

At the end of the chapter, he suddenly asks Love why she married his Grandfather.


None needed.



Love impresses Will-and stirs his hormones a bit-when she readily explains her situation. She doesn't want people to hate or disapprove of her, but Grandpa told her the talk would die down if she just kept quiet. She explains that Rucker had proposed as a business arrangement because he needed a housekeeper, and it was cheaper to marry one than pay for one. As part of her payment, he will deed the house and furniture to her. When she had hesitated to accept, he offered to set aside $200 for her in his will as well. She agreed to his proposal when he refused to accept reasons of social etiquette or community scandal. Since it wouldn't be a "real" marriage anyway, it wouldn't matter what people thought.

Miss Love also tells Will that she had fallen in love with someone else one time, but it hadn't worked out, and afterward she decided that God didn't intend for her ever to get married. However, she wanted a home and a family that would accept her more than anything. Rucker's proposal would give her a guarantee of a home. She could only hope that his family would eventually accept her. Will doesn't think that will happen, but can't bring himself to say so.


Two forces are at work in this chapter. First, Love needs someone to talk to and, as she has seen Will in the store every day, she feels comfortable with him. She may also simply feel that she can trust him as he certainly isn't going to get himself in trouble by telling either his mother or his aunt that he has talked to her. Also, she may secretly hope that Will will find a way to let his grandfather know just how much the antagonism of the town has hurt her. She surely knows that Will was very close to his grandmother and wants to dispel any notion that she is trying to take his grandmother's place.

Will himself has simply blurted out his question without thinking. It's an honest question, one that everyone has wondered about for different reasons. In his case, he can see that Love is so much younger than Rucker and, as Love is obviously a lady of some style, he can't help but wonder why Love would want to live in a house with no bathroom, indoor plumbing or electricity. What she tells him reveals her own extreme loneliness and longing for acceptance. Family and a home are more important than any modern convenience.

Will is also romantically attracted to Love, although he doesn't realize it until eight years later.


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Ruff, Dr. K.. "TheBestNotes on Cold Sassy Tree". . 09 May 2017