Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
There is an obvious sadness and sense of loss at the passing of the cousin in this story, but most important, “A Christmas Memory” reveals a preoccupation with the theme of children suffering from the dominance of unfeeling adults. As a seven-year-old, Buddy was an innocent young boy who would not realize the full impact of insensitive, adult domination until later in life. The real hero of his memoir is his cousin, who remains a child at heart even into her sixties. The villains of the story are their relatives, a shadowy group of adults who do not display the sensitivity and the joy for life that Buddy and his cousin share.
The story’s villains are initially curtly described simply as the “other people [who] inhabit the house, relatives; and though they have power over us, and frequently make us cry, we are not, on the whole, too much aware of them.” The point of the story, however, is that these adults cannot be ignored forever. The wonderful times that Buddy and his cousin enjoy are inevitably interrupted by reminders of the presence and domination of these unfeeling adults. Buddy and his cousin lack ready money for their annual fruitcakes because they only receive “skinflint sums [that] persons in the house occasionally provide (a dime is considered big money).” Two angry relatives burst into the whiskey-drinking scene, “potent with eyes that scold, tongues that scold,” and their annoyance on rising so early on Christmas morning is...
(The entire section is 498 words.)
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