novel’s narrator and protagonist. Will is a fourteen-year-old boy
growing up Cold Sassy, Georgia at the very beginning of the twentieth
century. Although he comes from a conventional family, Will is a
free spirit and often feels compelled to defy the rules governing
his life. Following his grandmother’s death and his grandfather’s
second marriage, Will begins to grapple with issues of love and
death, and his perspective on life begins to change.
in-depth analysis of Will Tweedy.
Will’s maternal grandfather. Rucker is a brash, humorous,
and domineering man who owns the general store in Cold Sassy. Rucker
is passionately Southern, but he has no use for the gossip and hypocrisy
of Cold Sassy’s small-town ways, and he acts according to his own
code of decent conduct, not the town’s.
in-depth analysis of Rucker Blakeslee.
Miss Love Simpson
A pretty, affectionate, and strong-willed woman.
Miss Love has succeeded despite a troubled childhood. In addition
to charm and a sense of humor, she possesses a business acumen that
wins her an important role in running Rucker’s store. She lives
her life cheerfully and bravely, ignoring or defying the expectations
of the close-minded and suspicious inhabitants of Cold Sassy.
in-depth analysis of Miss Love Simpson.
Mattie Lou Blakeslee
Will’s grandmother and Rucker’s first wife. Mattie
Lou dies three weeks before the novel begins. Mattie Lou was an
excellent gardener and a devoted caretaker for the sick. The people
of Cold Sassy speak reverently of her, and Rucker never forgets her
companionship and goodwill.
father. Hoyt is a stern, pious man who loves his family and has
a weak spot for modern technology. Although Hoyt is Rucker’s son-in-law
and a devoted employee, he proves himself capable of standing up
to his boss and defending his wife, Mary Willis, when the occasion
calls for it.
Mattie Lou and Rucker’s older daughter. Mary Willis is conventional
and nervous, but kind. The death of her mother deeply affects Mary
Willis. She mourns for a long time and finds it difficult to forgive her
father for remarrying so quickly, which she sees as a betrayal of
her mother’s memory.
Willis’s younger sister. A few years older than her nephew, Will,
Loma is a bossy, jealous, and often petulant young woman. She dreams
of being a writer or an actress and chafes against her dead-end marriage
to the useless Campbell Williams.
Loma’s husband. Campbell, called Camp, fails at
home and at work. He wants to please but
finds himself hampered by his own incompetence. Loma and Rucker
criticize him constantly and drive him to despair.
twenty-one-year-old boy from Mill Town who attends Will’s school
despite his advanced age. Although Will considers Hosie his enemy,
Hosie shows great promise and the townspeople of Cold Sassy see big
things in his future.
black man in Cold Sassy. Loomis is an employee at the general store
and the husband of the Tweedys’ cook, Queenie. Loomis is a kind
and loving man and an excellent preacher.
Miss Effie Belle Tate
Rucker’s next-door neighbor. Miss Effie Belle Tate
loves snooping and gossiping. She embodies the narrow-mindedness,
spite, and rumor-mongering that characterize Cold Sassy.
A brash, charming, and wealthy rancher from Texas.
Clayton’s shabby treatment of Miss Love makes her fear love and
eccentric woman called “aunt” because of her friendship with the
Tweedy family. Aunt Carrie’s odd mannerisms and theories make her
the object of ridicule, but in fact she is a woman of education
The baby son of Loma and Camp Williams. Campell
Junior is remarkable because of
Tweedys’ cook and Loomis’s wife. Queenie seems a jovial figure,
but in fact she suffers because of the prejudices of white Southerners.
dog, named after Theodore Roosevelt.
Mary Toy Tweedy
Will’s younger sister.
Will’s deceased friend. Bluford makes a ghostly appearance
early in the novel.