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Study Guide for Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

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After supper Blakeslee borrows Will, ostensibly so he can help them unload. Actually he and Miss Love want to explain the biggest surprise of all. Rucker has purchased a Pierce automobile, and they have plans to show both that car and Hoyt's Cadillac in order to get people in cold Sassy and neighboring towns to want one. Thus Rucker will be running a dealership. They plan to have Will help them give rides and driving lessons to all who want them, thereby making the cars irresistible. Will is fascinated by the idea, but not at all convinced that Papa will let him drive before his two months of punishment are over.


Rucker's car seems like it would be an attempt to compete against Hoyt, but it isn't really. In his mind, the purchase is entirely business related, an opportunity to expand the outreach of his store. As for Love, it seems logical that she wouldn't want to be limited to a mule and wagon when Mary Willis has access to a car, but she never says so, and she takes steps later to keep the town from thinking of it as competition.



While passing the days before the arrival of the new car, Will gets a glimpse of Love's ability to manipulate Grandpa. She suggests moving the outhouse closer to the house. At first he objects, saying that next she'll want an indoor bathroom. She says she didn't ask for that, but Will silently bets that she'll have it sooner or later.

School starts, and Will is disappointed by Lightfoot's absence. He asks Hosie Roach about her, and the two boys get into a fight. The teacher punishes them by making them cut wood for Mr. Billy Whismant, an old man who is getting too feeble to cut his own. Will and Hosie cut the wood, but insure that they won't have to do it again by deliberately cutting each stick four inches to long for the Whismant's stove.

The new car finally arrives. Miss Love has a banner made and plans free gifts for everyone as a means of getting them to the store. Will suggests that they ask Hoyt to bring the Cadillac. He knows that he is the only person in town other than his father who knows how to drive, so if Hoyt has to drive the Cadillac, he won't be able to object when Will has to drive the new car.


Will's reaction to his teacher's punishment is something every boy might wish to have thought of. Since he and Hosie scheme together to cut the wood incorrectly, they obviously aren't very serious enemies. Will said earlier that if one didn't get into a fight every now and then, he would be called a teacher's pet.



Grandpa's car arrives at the train depot. All the people gather at the store to see the surprise except Love who has refused to attend because she is afraid everyone will say she put him up to it. Grandpa gets angry and refuses to wear the new suit she has made for him, but Will knows that Love is right.

When the car arrives and is taken from the freight car, everyone cheers. Will drives it to the store. Love never does put in an appearance, which gives Loma cause to assume that Rucker just doesn't want Love to steal any of his glory. Will defends Love by saying that she is sick.

On Sunday morning Grandpa has Will come to the house before church and teach him and Love how to drive the new Pierce. Love and Will play a joke by turning off the ignition just as Grandpa tries to crank the car. Thus, he can't start the car, but Love can start it just fine. He believes he is doing something incorrectly until he catches Love turning off the switch. Once the car is running, Grandpa gives them a scare when he forgets to use the brake down a hill. He panics and steers the car into a ditch, but no real harm is done.

Miss Love is a better driver than Grandpa, but on the day she decides to drive to town and show off, a bee flies down the front of her dress. She panics and loses control of the car. Thus both Grandpa and Love swear they will never drive the car again, leaving Will as their designated driver.


Loma tries to start something when Love fails to show up, but the town is too preoccupied with the car to pay any attention. The purchase is an attempt Love's part to become more modern, but the inability to drive the car shows that neither she nor Grandpa is quite ready for that much of a leap. It does, however, symbolize major changes for the town as it will create more rapid and independent connections between Cold Sassy and the neighboring towns.


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