What are three characteristics of Buddy's best friend/cousin in "The Christmas Memory"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Truman Capote's nostalgic account of his Christmases spent with a distant cousin reveals a small, childlike dreamer, a social oddity, and a loving friend.

  • Small, childlike dreamer

    Buddy, as she calls him, describes his cousin as "small and sprightly" like a bantam hen (little, frisky chickens that are aggressive despite their size. Hens will defend their young against anything), a description that indicates her protective love for him.
    The cousin is also a dreamer with a childlike imagination. She calls Truman Buddy because he reminds her of a boy she knew years and years ago as a girl. In order to give fruitcakes to friendly strangers, the cousin concocts their plans: Donning her hat, she has Buddy "fetch" an old dilapidated wicker baby carriage in which they gather pecans. Then, they break into the "Fruitcake Fund" and buy home-brewed whisky from Mr. HaHa Jones. 

  • Eccentric, social oddity

When Buddy asks his cousin for whom they are making the cakes, she replies,

Friends....People who've struck our fancy. Like President Roosevelt. Like the Reverend and Mrs. J. C. Lucey, Baptist missionaries...Or the little knife grinder who comes through town twice a year. Or Abner Packer, the driver of the six o'clock bus from Mobile (Alabama) who exchanges waves with us every day as he passes in a dust-cloud whoosh.

For the most part, the sixty-something cousin never goes anywhere. She has never dined in a restaurant, traveled more than five miles from her home, read anything other than the comics in the newspaper, and the Bible. She has never worn make-up or gone on a date.

  • Loving friend

Despite her narrow life, the cousin is not petty or selfish. She possesses an imagination and a warm heart. For Christmas she makes Buddy a kite and on a day that the wind blows, they rush to a pasture where they fly the kite and sprawl on the grass looking up at the sky broken by their winged gifts. Reflectively, the old friend speaks of death, but also of how the Lord is visible in all things created if only one will look at them.

Years later, when Buddy receives a letter from his old and diminished friend that declares, "It's fruitcake weather!" he searches the sky for two kites, like the loving hearts of friends, "hurrying toward heaven." 

Read the study guide:
A Christmas Memory

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