Chapter 9 Summary
Will sees Grandpa write Granny’s death in the Toy Family Bible that has recorded their marriage and the birth and death of their children. Only two children lived out of seven born. Grandpa wanted to keep trying to get a son and heir.
The neighbor, Miss Effie Belle Tate, who lives next door to Grandpa, reports that he goes to the cemetery every night and lies on Mattie Lou’s grave. Grandpa shuts out his family, and they worry about him. People talk about how hard he was on her, making her work without modern conveniences or a servant.
Will notices that Grandpa has let the house go. It is a mess. Granny wasn’t a great housekeeper, but she was neat. Will sits in Granny’s garden and cries. He thinks she would hate dying a plain death. Granny used to tell stories about how people died, and she had many bizarre tales. Will is cheered up when he thinks Grandpa has made Granny’s death more interesting by marrying three weeks later.
Chapter 9 Commentary
This chapter begins to weave in some of the numerous stories and tall tales about relatives and people in Cold Sassy that create the humorous texture of a rural Southern town. One story is about an Aunt Carrie who comes to the funeral and thinks Mary Toy’s red hair is inappropriate, so she dies it black. The dye runs down Mary Toy’s face in church, and her hair turns purple. Aunt Carrie holds cultural gatherings for children, since she is educated, but the parents withdraw their children when she lectures on the value of human excrement for garden manure.
The people of Cold Sassy like to gossip and tell stories, and it is obvious some of them are made up, although the author did base many tales on her own family history and newspaper articles. Grandpa and Will are two of the best storytellers and don’t mind embellishing the details. This foretells Will’s future as a writer. This book is his memoir of growing up in rural Georgia at the turn of the century.
There is also more than a hint that though Grandpa loved his wife, he wasn’t completely fair to her, and he knows it. The gossip goes around about whether or not Grandpa was in love with Love Simpson before Granny died, but Will at this point defends Grandpa because he knows he truly mourned Mattie Lou. The town people turn on Love Simpson as an opportunist without knowing much about her or the facts. It is all a mystery that Will keeps delving into.