Study Guide for Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns|
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STUDY GUIDE FOR COLD SASSY TREE BY OLIVE ANN BURNS
Will also makes comparisons among the men in his life. He knows that his grandfather just assumes Will is going to take over the store someday, but he wants to go to agricultural school and become a professional farmer instead. There are other ways, too, in which he does not want to be like his grandfather. He recognizes that his own father is more practical, and perhaps even more to be admired, but as a kid, his grandfather is just more fun.
Part of growing up for Will is that he will lose his first love to his worst
enemy, and then have to work in the store with that enemy as well. He
will also gradually learn to at least tolerate his Aunt Loma, although
he has played such cruel tricks on her that they will never be close.
It is mark of maturing that, after all the cruel jokes he has played on
Loma through the years, he is able to recognize that turning the cage
of rats loose in her Christmas play was going to far. He is genuinely
sorry for the first time in his life.
The people of Cold Sassy think they are above prejudice. As a narrator, Will defends his people, but the adult voice makes it clear that he saw those inconsistencies. The wealthy families have black servants who get paid in the form of room, board, and small amount of cash. But the servants eat in the kitchen, apart from the family, and use quart jars to drink from and discarded tin pie pans to hold their food. They never ask whether the black people would like to be able to use the good china-it's just the way it is.
An even more obvious prejudice shows in the town's attitude toward the people who work at the cotton mill outside of town. The mill wages are so pitiful that nearly every member in the family has to work in order to supply the bare necessities. The people don't have access to adequate water, so their houses are dirty and the people themselves often carry lice. They aren't bad people, but because of their circumstances are untouchable. When Will gets caught kissing Lightfoot, his parents punish him, but the people in the town immediately assume that the "mill girl" was at fault and led him into the cemetery where she tricked him into kissing her. Will sees how ridiculous the accusations is, but has no easy way of defending her.
Love Simpson is also a victim of prejudice. She is more or less accepted when she is just the milliner, i.e. a person who makes or designs hats. However, her job marks her as beneath the Blakeslee family where the women don't have to work. In fact, the only acceptable job for a woman is to be a teacher unless she is a widow.
Even religion is a form of prejudice in this small town. The Blakeslee family are Baptists; the Methodists aren't considered quite as good as the Baptists, although the two denominations aren't openly hostile to one another.
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Ruff, Dr. K.. "TheBestNotes on Cold Sassy Tree".
. 10 May 2008