In A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, if the narrator and his friend (and Queenie)are the protagonists of the story, who are the sources of conflict and who ultimately has the upper hand?
Formulate a theme for the story and explain what aspect is of primary interest in the story together with the principle source of its appeal and its capacity to illuminate human character.
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote is a short story which reveals that simple pleasures can be true blessings. The narrator, affectionately called "Buddy" by his distant cousin, known only as his "friend," recalls his early days spent with her, despite the enormous age gap; Buddy who is seven and his "friend" who is over sixty years old. Nonetheless, "she is still a child."
Although they do not feature much in the story, "two relatives...with eyes that scold, tongues that scald" are the only real source of conflict and apparently the ones referred to as "Those Who Know Best." They decide that Buddy should attend military school; separating the friends. Ultimately, although saddened by the memory of his friend who, after a few years of making fruitcake by herself as he does not return "home", is no longer able to declare "it's fruitcake weather," Buddy takes solace in "searching the sky." It may seem that the relatives have "the upper hand" but Buddy's recollections are not bitter and he expects to see "a lost pair of kites hurrying towards heaven."
This confirms a theme of love and also of loss which Buddy feels acutely even before his friend dies as "Home is where my friend is." The theme of friendship is also prevalent and particularly that friendship knows no barriers. Buddy and his friend are unlikely "friends" as she is old enough to be his grandmother. Their friendship is so pure and unquestioning that nothing else matters.
The story appeals to the reader due to its uncomplicated thread. Capote cleverly leaves the "relatives" out of the story for the most part as they will only complicate it. Even the reference to the whisky- drinking is understated so as not to divide the friends. They are equals and even though his friend should have known that "feeding a child of seven" is "the road to ruination," it is not the issue for Buddy who has to console his friend when she cries. There is no blame or expectation. She is his friend not his carer so Buddy's only desire is to make her feel better. Bringing out the best in each other is an aspect of primary interest as they encourage each other at all times, illuminating human character and its potential. Adults over-complicate matters and this story reveals that this could so easily have happened here but Buddy makes sure he remembers the pleasure of his friend's company, never dwelling for too long on military school or the unfairness of the situation.