Chapters 42-43 Summary
Miss Love spends all her time horseback riding, and Grandpa’s eyes are never merry now. Grandpa lets his hair grow out and displays his mean streak again. For instance, he gets even for an old score with Mr. Crummy, the hotel owner. Mr. Crummy has a drawing for a new name for the hotel. Grandpa’s suggested name is drawn from the hat, and he insists the deal be honored. The hotel is renamed the Rucker Blakeslee Hotel. People believe that Grandpa owns both the hotel and the store.
Grandpa then pretends to get sick to get Miss Love’s sympathy. After she catches on, she begins riding in a horse and buggy for hours. They act like they don’t know each other. Meanwhile, Loma is directing the Christmas play and asks Will to catch a live mouse for one scene in the play. Will and his friends decide to substitute live rats. They let nineteen rats out on the stage in the middle of the play causing the audience to scream and scatter. Will rushes home to put on an extra pair of pants to cushion his inevitable whipping.
Actually sorry for his prank, Will goes to Aunt Loma to apologize. She declares she will always hate him and slaps him. Will is happy to be back in the feud with her. Loma takes out her anger on her husband Camp. Will overhears Hosie Roach come to Grandpa and ask for a job. Grandpa doesn’t give it to him but makes sure that Camp hears him say Hosie would be equal to three of Camp.
While Loma is visiting in Athens, Camp kills himself with a gun in the kitchen. Hoyt and Will find the body. Camp leaves a suicide note that he tried to plan it while she was gone and in a way not to mess up the floor. He laid on an oilcloth that he could be wrapped in and disposed of.
Chapters 42-43 Commentary
While a lot of Will’s and Grandpa’s jokes and irritable feuds are humorous and part of the texture of Cold Sassy, there are unforeseen consequences. Will begins to learn remorse for ruining Loma’s Christmas play until her response keeps the feud going. She takes out all her bad moods on her husband, her whipping boy.
Camp’s pitiful suicide note reveals the other side, what it feels like to be the butt of jokes. He says he couldn’t take it any more but blames himself for being “good for nuthin” (p. 327). There is generosity in Will and Grandpa, but there is also prejudice and lack of consideration sometimes. Will likes Lightfoot but still looks down on the mill people, trying not to fully understand the injustice of their situation. Similarly, he rejects Love’s point about the position of black folks in the South. To the family, Camp is an ignorant tenant farmer boy and deserves their scorn.
Grandpa has been especially mean lately because of his disappointment with Love. The joy has gone out of both of them. And now, tragedy strikes the family.