NOTES ON COLD SASSY TREE by NuH5HDM

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            NOTES ON COLD SASSY TREE

Historical notes:
       Remarkable time of technological,
        social, and cultural change in USA

       President Theodore Roosevelt:
        Progressivism = activist period when
        many social & political reforms were
        implemented

       Progressive Era (1890-1920)
        embodied in Roosevelt (served as
        President 1901-1909)

       Roosevelt known as a “trustbuster”
        b/c he crusaded against unregulated
        & monopolistic businesses &
        industries
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       Led the US to be a dominant world
        power by becoming involved in
        political conflicts in the Western
        Hemisphere (Roosevelt Corollary to
        Monroe Doctrine)

       Pure Food and Drug Act – 1906

       Child labor laws fought for but not
        passed until 1938

       Women’s suffrage

       Negative side of Progressive Era –
        strides toward racial equality undone.

         o Jim Crow Laws
         o Booker T. Washington
         o W.E.B. DuBois
         o NAACP
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       Technological advances:
         o Wireless telegraph
         o Kodak camera
         o Automobiles

       Entertainment
         o Ragtime
         o Dances
         o Vaudeville
         o Films (nickelodeons = small
           theaters)
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Literary Context:


    Bildungsroman =
        German term for a novel of
         growth and coming of age
        Focus on the processes by which a
         sensitive young person finds his
         or her identity and learns to take
         an active role in the adult world

    By adult from child’s perspective –
      told  by adult narrator who reminisces
         about people and experiences
         associated with the past

      enables   authors to maintain a child’s
         perspective on events while
         incorporating the perception and
         wisdom of adulthood
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    Southern oral literary tradition –

        emphasizing story and storytelling
         rather than focused narrative
         structure and plot development

        this style associated with Mark
         Twain

        often accompanied by use of
         Southern dialect

        Burns uses anecdotes & flashback
         sequences to distract narrator
         from movement of main plot
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Plot & Structure

    Episodic

           Charts the changes Will & his
            family experience following his
            grandmother’s death & his
            grandfathers scandalous marriage
            three weeks later

           Covers approximately one year

    B
           Child’s development into
            adulthood

           Will’s coming of age is the main
            plot device
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Setting
        Cold Sassy, GA (1906-1907)

        Exemplifies the rigid social
         structure of a small Southern town
         at the turn of the century

        The changes in the lives of the
         story’s characters both affect, and
         are affected by, the town itself

        Townspeople embody the values
         of their time and place

        Motives and responses of
         townspeople are often as
         significant as the actions of the
         main characters
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Point of View & Characterization

    1. 1st person

    2. flashback – reflects on events of
       the plot 8 years after they began

    3. other characters revealed through
       indirect characterization: we
       learn about them along with Will
       through their words and actions
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Theme

  The inevitability
of change
    Changing attitudes of main
     character as he approaches
     adulthood

       Realizes people around him are
        much more complex than he
        realized as a child

       Must change simplistic ideas
        about himself, his family, and life
        itself

       Articulated through images of life
        & death, growth & development,
        innocence & experience,
        departure & return, and past &
        future
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 The importance of
home
        For many characters, home & its
         meaning are central concerns

        Will must define his place in his
         family & also establish his own
         independence

        Miss Love struggles to achieve
         her greatest desire: a home &
         family

The limiting power of
prejudice
        Prejudices in novel:
         o Race           Gender
         o Class          Regional
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        Will encounters prejudice &
         learns to question his assumptions
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Symbols

     Sassafras tree
       Central symbol of history &
        change
       Town is named for the comforting
        tree, which is cut down at the end
        of the novel

     Rose
       Love that sustains the characters

     Journey
        Physical & emotional
         transformation Will undergoes
         during novel
        As he travels away from Cold
         sassy, he comes to new
         understandings that change the
         way he feels upon his return
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     Piano
       Joy & happiness: the different
        approaches the characters take
        toward the instrument indicate
        their differing ideas about
        happiness

Automobile
     Changing times


         The future arriving in Cold Sassy

								
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