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Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors
used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
The Cold Sassy tree gives the novel its title and the
town its name, and it symbolizes a number of concepts and characters.
The tree stands for Rucker’s and Miss Love’s strength and composure,
and the word sassy might refer to their sassy flouting
of the town’s social conventions. The tree also symbolizes an older
era in the town’s history. The town takes its name from the trees,
and the shrinking sassafras grove parallels the town’s bittersweet
progress. When settlers first came to Cold Sassy there was a whole
grove of sassafras trees. To make room for the new railroad, all
but one tree was cut down. At the end of the novel, that last tree
is felled so that the tracks can be widened, and the townspeople
want to change the name of the town to something more modern. With
this eradication of the sassafras trees over time, the town grows
more modern and distances itself more from its heritage.
Miss Love Simpson teaches Rucker and Will about love,
so it is fitting that her birthday falls on Valentine’s Day. Her
name also fits her loving, affectionate nature. Valentine’s Day
comes to symbolize not only Love’s sweet nature but also the love
shared by Rucker and Miss Love, and the possibility of such love
despite social stigmas.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Cold Sassy Tree!