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Rucker Blakeslee, a grandfather, patriarch, and successful
storeowner, is the commanding center of Cold Sassy Tree. His
imposing physical stature reflects his authority over his family
and the ease with which he flouts Cold Sassy’s conventions. Not
only Rucker’s morals but also his wit and prankish tendency stimulate
his desire to be a thorn in Cold Sassy’s side. He takes particular
joy in shaming the town’s hypocrites. He marries a much younger
woman, holds church services in his own home, and puts on a lavish
burial for Camp, even though Camp kills himself. Rucker is determined
to defy every convention that the rest of the town observes. Cold
Sassy grumbles at Rucker’s cantankerousness, but Rucker is a figure
of integrity for his grandson, Will, and for us. The town
is prejudiced, but Rucker is open-minded. The town clings to outdated
rules, but Rucker behaves according to the dictates of his conscience.
The town pays lip service to Christianity, but Rucker deciphers
Despite—and also because of—Rucker’s stubbornness
and individuality, he holds a position of authority in Cold Sassy.
He owns the general store, which is the hub of the town’s business and
gossip. He rules, sometimes fiercely, over his obedient daughters
and their husbands and children. Because Rucker is an established
part of Cold Sassy life, his brashness is easier than it looks.
He can safely rail against the status quo, knowing that his power,
his will, and his money protect him from the anger his behavior
inspires. His rebellion commands admiration, but it also sometimes
makes scapegoats of Will, Miss Love, and Loomis, who do not have
the same power that protects Rucker and makes him invulnerable to
Rucker becomes more cheerful and easygoing
as the novel progresses. During his marriage to Mattie Lou, various
difficulties affect his temperament. Although Rucker and Mattie
Lou are kind and considerate to each other, the traumas of their
marriage make Rucker controlling and stingy. He provides well for
his family, but he vents his sadness through miserliness. Under
the influence of Miss Love Simpson, however, Rucker begins to exhibit
a new generosity and gentleness.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Cold Sassy Tree!