full title Cold Sassy Tree
author Olive Ann Burns
type of work Novel
genre Coming-of-age tale; love story
time and place written 1976–1984, Georgia
date of first publication 1984
publisher Ticknor & Fields
narrator Will Tweedy
point of view Will narrates in the first person, commenting on the events and people in the story.
tone Will’s tone is youthful, exuberant, innocent, and colloquial.
setting (time) 1906 and 1907, although Will is telling the story years later, in 1914
setting (place) Cold Sassy, Georgia
protagonists Rucker Blakeslee and Will Tweedy
major conflict Rucker Blakeslee and his new bride, Miss Love Simpson, attempt to live happily and ignore the town’s and the Blakeslee family’s general condemnation of their union. Will struggles to grow up and maintain his integrity.
rising action Rucker announces his marriage to Miss Love; Rucker and Miss Love go to New York City; Will loses Lightfoot to Hosie Roach
climax Rucker reveals his love to Miss Love; she reveals that her father raped her
falling action Rucker and Miss Love enjoy their newfound love; Rucker hires Hosie; Will understands the love between Rucker and Miss love
themes The struggle to understand death; the dawning of the modern era; the fight to overcome social constraints
motifs Humor as a coping mechanism; family as a burden and a blessing; language as a reflection of class and place
symbols The Cold Sassy tree; Valentine’s Day
foreshadowing In Chapter 46, Will’s hope that something bad will happen to Hosie and his comment that it happens to Rucker instead hints at the illness that strikes Rucker and his death shortly thereafter.