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How is Rucker’s
behavior in his marriage with Mattie Lou different from his behavior
in his marriage to Miss Love Simpson?
During his long marriage to Mattie Lou, Rucker
Blakeslee’s defining trait was his stubborn miserliness. Although
modern conveniences like indoor plumbing, the telephone, and electricity
have all come to Cold Sassy by the time Mattie Lou dies, Rucker
refused to shoulder the cost of such amenities, even though they
would have made Mattie Lou’s life much easier. Difficulties placed
stress on Rucker’s marriage to Mattie Lou. Only two of their many
children lived to adulthood, and childbearing became too risky for
Mattie Lou. Rucker and Mattie Lou ceased having sex, and Rucker
made himself feel useful by throwing himself into the work of providing
for his family.
When Rucker marries Miss Love Simpson, his personality
begins to change. Stubbornness and miserliness give way to accommodation
and indulgence. While Rucker has always been enamored of Miss Love,
she marries him out of convenience, but gradually discovers she
loves him. Rucker begins to work fewer hours at the store and to
loosen his tight grip on money. Rucker discovers that his life can
be about more than providing income and food, and he dedicates himself
to making himself and his loved ones happy.
Rucker’s decision to hire Hosie Roach affect Will? Is Rucker’s decision
to hire Hosie generous to Hosie or inconsiderate to Will?
Although Hosie’s new job does allow him to
marry Lightfoot, Will’s love interest, Rucker does not really harm
Will by hiring Hosie. Although Will is attracted to Lightfoot, he
fears his family’s reaction to the knowledge that he likes a lower-class
girl. Because of this fear, Will repeatedly passes on the chance
to start a relationship with Lightfoot. He misses their date to
go blackberry-picking and does not speak to Lightfoot after they
kiss. Rucker’s decision to hire Hosie frustrates Will, but in the
long run does not deprive Will of an opportunity he would otherwise
seriously pursue. Rucker’s decision does far more good than harm.
Rucker offers the struggling young Hosie the opportunity to make
something of himself, and Rucker does so despite public opinion.
Will is not a selfish boy, and he wishes for Lightfoot the happiness
that Hosie’s new job brings her.
Sassy Tree concludes with Will listing the objects he has
saved from his childhood. How do these objects relate to the story
he has just told?
Each of the objects that Will saves from
his childhood is a marker of his steps toward adulthood. The accident
on the train trestle stirs up Will’s first pressing questions about
the link between life and death, and the newspaper article about
the incident reminds Will of this first important lesson. The photograph
of Will, Rucker, and Miss Love is a token of all the lessons about
love that Will learns from that relationship. The root of the sassafras
tree reminds Will of old Cold Sassy. The agricultural college
diploma reveals that Will has developed strength of character and
resisted the easy work of the store to follow his dream of becoming
a farmer. Will has defied Rucker’s last wishes, and in doing so,
acted exactly as Rucker would have. The buckeye stands for Lightfoot,
who introduces Will to the joys and pain of love, which enables
him to experience life to the fullest.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Cold Sassy Tree!