Cold Sassy Tree: Chapters 17-18

Chapters 17-18 Summary
Will has nightmares as he recovers from the accident. One is about his Aunt Loma, and he remembers how they started their perpetual feud when she insisted he call her “aunt.” Will explains that Aunt Loma and Angus Tuttle are his two chief enemies. Getting even with Loma is his prime goal, and Angus is a farmer who does not like the practical jokes that Will and the boys play on him. Hosie Roach is another enemy, a “linthead” (p. 106). When Loma swears she will get even with Love Simpson, Will wonders whether Miss Love is Loma’s match.
Will is sent to Grandpa’s to help Love. He finds Love giving Grandpa’s house a thorough cleaning. Sometimes she takes a break and plays the piano and sings “Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay” to the disgust of the neighbor, Miss Effie Belle. Love is wearing a low-cut dress with her skirt hiked up. Will is enchanted. The house has been dark because Cold Sassy folks believe sunlight will ruin the furniture, but Love opens the windows and lets the sunlight in. Whatever she does is insulting to the town. They believe she is criticizing their ways, but Will sees that Miss Love is a joyous person.
When Grandpa comes home expecting dinner, Love has forgotten it but promises him a good supper. Will expects his Grandpa to get mad at Love, but he doesn’t. Love decides Grandpa would look more handsome with his beard shaved and hair cut, and Will is amazed he lets her do it. Grandpa looks handsome and young.
Chapters 17-18 Commentary
There are many feuds in Cold Sassy, and Will, though only fourteen, has a few of his own. He takes after Grandpa, playing his practical jokes on people he thinks too stuck up. He is like a smaller version of Grandpa, but we begin to see Grandpa change with his new marriage. He is not so bossy with Love. He gives in to her and buys her things, perhaps feeling guilt for his stinginess to Mattie Lou. Love is young and vibrant. Her joy and innocence is just what Grandpa needs for a renewal of his own life.
Will is torn between taking his mother’s part and taking Grandpa’s part in the family drama. He begins to like Love. He thinks she has a good heart, and he likes her ways. She is a good deal like Grandpa in her humor and vitality and independence. She is not afraid of him, though she tries to make him happy. Rucker looks and acts younger around Love.
One of the telling comments is Will’s opinion of the “linthead” Hosie Roach. He speaks as a thoughtless youngster about the stupid mill children, though he admits he doesn’t like to think about how the children are forced to work at an early age in the cotton mill. Hoyt, Will’s Presbyterian father, was one who voted to let the mill children come to public school and mix with the town children. This speaks well of Hoyt, but Will is too young to appreciate his father’s politics.