The key obstacle Buddy and Sook, his cousin, have to overcome, is their lack of money. Both are dependents in a Southern household in the 1930s. Buddy is a young child of seven. Sook is a 60-something single woman with very little experience of the world.
To make their fruitcakes, they need the following:
Cherries and citron, ginger and vanilla and canned Hawaiian pine-apple, rinds and raisins and walnuts and whiskey and oh, so much flour, butter, so many eggs, spices, flavorings . . .
They also need money for postage so that they can mail the pies to far-away recipients, such as President Franklin Roosevelt.
The two kill flies, earning one penny for every 25 flies they kill. They gather wild pecans for the fruitcakes. They hoard the little bit of money, usually a dime at a time, that their relatives give them. They enter any contest they can find--once they won five dollars. They have rummage sales, and they sell homemade fruit jams. At one point, they operate a Fun and Freak Museum featuring Biddy, the three-legged hen, which earns them $20.00. Sadly, however, Biddy dies.
The goal of baking the fruitcakes bonds them. They show a great deal of energy and creativity in their pursuit of funds for the cakes.