Cold Sassy Tree: Chapter 41
Chapter 41 Summary
Will realizes pouring grits in the radiator is not going to work. The town of Cushie Springs is two miles away. They can keep pouring water in the radiator until they get there. They need a mechanic with soldering tools.
At Cushie Springs Grandpa decides to call Athens for a mechanic. They stop at the first house. The young man there works in Athens and will deliver the message. Grandpa also asks the young man to phone Hoyt Tweedy to explain they won’t be home until the next day, since the mechanic won’t come on Sunday. The young man’s parents, the Jamisons, offer to let the party stay all night with them since there is no hotel.
The evening is spent in pleasant talk with the Jamisons, but Will notices that Grandpa seems excited, and Love is nervous. Mrs. Jamison shows the guests to their sleeping quarters. She assumes the married couple will sleep in the double bed, and Will can sleep in the adjoining small room on a cot. In actuality, Will and Grandpa sleep in the big bed, and Miss Love takes the cot in the next room.
As soon as Grandpa thinks Will is asleep he goes into Miss Love’s room and begins kissing her and talking to her. Will hears everything through the paper-thin wall. Grandpa finally admits that he has been in love with her since he met her and that’s why he felt guilty when his wife died. He was not able to sleep with his wife because she would have died if she had another baby. He rushed the wedding because Love was courting with Son Black. Grandpa figured the piano and house were enough to tempt her to marry him, and he would do the courting later.
Love makes her own confession that she feels she can never be a wife because her father sexually abused her when she was young. She told her fiancé Clayton McAlister about it and that’s why he broke off the engagement. She tells Grandpa to leave her alone, and he goes back to his own bed.
After the car is fixed the next day, Grandpa rides with Will in the front seat back to Cold Sassy.
Chapter 41 Commentary
Will wonders why Grandpa doesn’t comfort Love about her past. Perhaps it is because of her coldness to him and rejection of his love. Miss Love is carrying around hurt from the past and only married Grandpa for the house and to be a housekeeper. She feels she can never be a wife. The most she has hoped for was a home and a family to belong to. Grandpa admits his guilty secret of loving Miss Simpson before his wife died.
This chapter reveals that the two are in love, though there are obstacles. Love finally understood Grandpa loved her in New York, though he slept on the floor there. Grandpa confesses he stole his daughter’s trip to New York so he could court Love.
Grandpa feels somewhat justified in pursuing Love Simpson because Mattie Lou once said to him if she died, she wanted him to find another wife.
While sexual abuse causes psychological damage in any age, it was especially damning to a woman in this time and place. She would be regarded as “impure” by herself and others. Clayton’s rejection sealed her idea that God did not permit her to marry now that she was damaged goods. Even though Love is a modern woman and independent in many respects, she seems burdened by this past. Grandpa accuses her of wearing the past “like sackcloth and ashes” (p. 307). Yet they seem to be at an impasse.