How is the central conflict resolved in the story A Christmas Memory?  

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The central plot conflict in "A Christmas Memory" revolves around how the penniless dependents Buddy and Sook will finance their Christmas fruitcake project. This is resolved in a number of ways, from the money they earn selling jam, from doing odd jobs, from entering contests during the year, and, finally, from the free whiskey Haha Jones gives them.

Thematically, Buddy and Sook are at odds with their shadowy relatives because of their (Buddy and Sook's) childlike wonder at life, their sense of joy, and their gentle, generous mindsets. They comprise what Vaclav Havel calls a "Second Culture" in his essay "The Power of the Powerless."  They are powerless people in their family structure, dependent and marginalized. Together, they form their own small world under the radar of their more dominant relatives. This world proves ephemeral, however. After Sook makes the innocent mistake of sharing the whiskey leftover from making the fruitcakes with young Buddy and the dog, both of whom get tipsy, the disapproving relatives scold Sook harshly. They later decide to send Buddy off to a military academy, which breaks up the world Buddy and Sook have constructed. 

A central conflict is how to find happiness in a restricted life. Sook deals with the constraints and uncertainties in her life by finding happiness in the moment. She says she knows she will die happy because of the happy times she has had. Buddy finds solace in his memories of Sook and their times together. 

ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"A Christmas Memory" shows how children pass into adulthood not only by growing older, but also by learning the ways of the world. Two conflicting worldviews confront Buddy in the story, and it is his ability to synthesize the two that leads to his increased wisdom."

Buddy does not have the chance to decide for himself how he will pass into adulthood.  The resolution of his conflict is decided for him. After the last Christmas Buddy and his distant cousin, who is self-described as his "best friend," were separated. 

"Life separetes us.  Those who Know Best decide that I belong in a military school.  And so follows a miserable succession of bugle-blowing prisons, grim revelled-ridden summer camps.  I have a new home too.  But it doesn't count.  Home is where my friend is, and there I never go."

Eventually we learn from Buddy that "Queenie dies from being kicked by a horse," and his cousin becomes older, and ill and then one day dies.  Buddy says, "And when it happens, I know it.  A message saying so merely confirms a piece of news some secret vein had already received, severing from me an irreplaceable part of myself.."

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A Christmas Memory

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