Cold Sassy Tree: Chapters 21-22

Chapters 21-22 Summary

When Miss Love sees who is coming up the walk to Grandpa’s house, she tells Will to keep him out. He isn’t fast enough to keep out Clayton McAlister, the Texas cowboy Love was engaged to. He bursts into the door and begins passionately kissing Love in front of Will. Will sees that she is kissing him back for a while until she comes to her senses.
Will sees the neighbor coming up the walk with a coconut cake. He knows Miss Effie Belle must have seen the kissing too and wants to see the stranger more closely. Will rushes out and lies to Miss Effie, saying the stranger is a lawyer or somebody, and she should come back later.
After the kissing, Love and Clayton begin arguing. Will tries to leave but Love makes him stay. Clayton asks her to marry him. She says he asked before and then broke the engagement and ran off with her best friend. She declares she hates him. Clayton, however, looks like he is really in love. Love says if she had married him, she would now be the lonely wife of a philanderer.
Angry, she announces to him that her husband is coming home now. Grandpa walks in then, and Will thinks he will fight the stranger. Instead, Grandpa asks him to sit down and is polite to him. They visit a while and seem to like each other. When McAlister leaves, Love explains to Grandpa she was once engaged to him. Grandpa offers to give her an annulment if she wants to marry him.
Chapters 21-22 Commentary

This is a humorous scene with Love’s reputation, already on the line, suffering even more when she is caught passionately kissing the stranger. Will likes Love and yet is worried for Grandpa’s honor. He worries about Miss Effie running to tell the town about the kiss.
Grandpa is unpredictable, and both Love and Will are surprised by his cordial behavior. Love told Will that she had taken a vow not to marry after the incident with McAlister. She took the letter from him rejecting her as God’s stamp on her being an old maid. But she did pray for a house and got it.
Will satirizes the situation and the Southern Presbyterians in the same stroke. He points out that the Presbyterians believe in predestination, or a person’s fate being predetermined since birth. In that case, God should not have let Miss Love out of Baltimore. Then she wouldn’t have to get a sign from God not to marry McAlister, and Granny wouldn’t have to die so she could get her house.