What are some of the themes in the story 'A Christmas Memory' by Truman Capote, and what kind of a story is this? What is the mood?  

Expert Answers
sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let's start with by answering what kind of story this is. "A Christmas Memory" is a reminiscence. That means it is a story told about a past event remembered by the narrator.  In this story's case, the narrator, Buddy, is telling readers about a particular Christmas that occurred when he was 7.  

The person to whom she is speaking is myself. I am seven . . .

As for a theme, I think a strong theme that is present throughout the entire story is the theme of friendship. What's great about this story is that it shows friendship is timeless. There isn't an age limit or a set of ages that define who is allowed to be friends. Buddy is 7 and his friend is "sixty-something." The age gap is irrelevant to the two characters. It is clear that Buddy and his friend love each other deeply and appreciate each other for who they are.  Their friendship is goofy and doesn't judge. It doesn't matter what they are doing; they love doing any activity together.  

A story's mood is the feeling that it arouses in a reader.  There are a lot of different words that could be used to describe this story's mood, but I think "playful" and "energetic" are words that definitely describe this story's mood. Buddy and his friend have a playful attitude about everything they do, and everything they work on together is done in an energetic frenzy. 

It's always the same: a morning arrives in November, and my friend, as though officially inaugurating the Christmas time of year that exhilarates her imagination and fuels the blaze of her heart, announces: "It's fruitcake weather! Fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat."

Flying kites, fetching a buggy, baking fruitcakes, getting drunk on whiskey, etc. are all shown to be events filled with giddy happiness and laughter.  

My dancing shadow rollicks on the walls; our voices rock the chinaware; we giggle: as if unseen hands were tickling us.

mkcapen1 | Student

The short story by Truman Capote is a nostalgic walk through his childhood and relationship with Miss Sook.  Miss Sook was his elderly cousin who is in her 60"s and Buddy is only 7.  They live together at his grandmother's house.  As a child Truman spent a lot of time with elderly relatives due to his parent’s tumultuous divorce.  He developed a close bond with Miss Sook who was as much a playmate to him as a friend.  The book is the first of several stories that he wrote about his memories of his time spent with Miss Sook.

In the story Miss Sook and Buddy go on an adventure to collect the necessary items to make fruitcake.  Fruitcake was a Christmas tradition and due to the hardship of economic times, the necessary items were in short supply at Miss Sooks.  The theme is about a friendship that crosses over the timeline of age.

The mood is one of nostalgia and simplicity.  It is a happy story with a somewhat sad note at the end.

Read the study guide:
A Christmas Memory

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