Can you think of real or fictional characters that are similar in spirit to Buddy’s friend in "A Christmas Memory"?
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Another work of Truman Capote's, the novella The Grass Harp, which also has the author's recurring theme of an intelligent boy's growing up without the support of the traditional family, has a very individualistic and eccentric character who shares some similarities with Buddy's friend in "A Christmas Memory." For, both Buddy's friend and Dolly are outside the acceptance of their societies because they are uncomfortable around many people.
Like Buddy's friend, whom Capote purportedly based upon an elderly cousin, Miss Sook Faulk, Dolly is also an idiosyncratic, yet wise older woman with whom Collin Fenwick, the narrator and protagonist, comes to live. Dolly concocts a "dropsy cure" and allows Collin to accompany her into the woods where she seeks her ingredients, various herbs and roots. Much like Buddy's friend, Dolly teaches Collin to love and appreciate nature. In fact the title of the novella emanates from Dolly's telling Collin to listen to the wind blowing through the tall grasses--a grasp harp, she calls this phenonmenon.
I think what stands out overall about Buddy's friend is the way that, in spite of her age, she is full of youthful energy and zest. In many ways, although she is "sixty-something," she displays a similar level of excitement and enthusiasm that Buddy himself does, even though he is only seven. Note her response to the arrival of "fruit-cake weather":
"I knew it before I got out of bed," she says, turning away from the window with a purposeful excitement in her eyes.
The sense of childlike excitement and anticpation that is conveyed through her character is something that is infectious. I therefore associate Buddy's friend with any elderly person who is truly young in spirit, and proves the statement that you are as old as you feel. One of my former lecturers fits this description perfectly. What distinguished him from other lecturers was that, in spite of his advancing years, he was always open to new ideas and loved debating. Every time there was an argument during his lectures he would have a twinkle in his blue eyes as he ejoyed the debate just as much as we did.
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