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A Christmas Memory

by Truman Capote

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What does Queenie symbolize in "A Christmas Memory"?

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Queenie is an "outsider" to the dominant society of the unnamed grownup relatives in whose house Sook and Buddy live. With them, this little dog forms an alternative society. She represents being different or "other," because, of course, she is non-human.

Buddy is other, too, because he is a little boy; Sook is different because she is a single older woman who is considered slow (not-all-there) mentally. None of these three really belong to the central family: all are, in a sense, strays that have landed as dependents in this household.

Sook shows her openness in the way that she fully welcomes Queenie into her activities. Queenie participates in the quest to celebrate Christmas that Sook pursues with Buddy. Sook even gives Queenie some of the whiskey left over after the fruitcakes are finished:

Queenie has a spoonful in a bowl of coffee (she likes her coffee chicory-flavored and strong).

We learn from this that Sook gives Queenie coffee, too, as if she were a human. When Sook and Buddy dance, Queenie participates as well:

Queenie rolls on her back, her paws plow the air, something like a grin stretches her black lips.

Sook also gives Queenie a Christmas gift of a bone every year.

Queenie shows how inclusive and accepting Sook is. Sook will share her joy with any creature who wishes to join her. Small, tough, happy, a survivor of hurts, and an outsider, Queenie to some extent symbolizes Sook herself.

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In the short story "A Christmas Memory" by Truman Capote, Queenie, the orange and white rat terrier, symbolizes the relationship between Buddy and his friend.

Queenie is small and tough. In fact, she has survived "distemper" and "two rattlesnake bites." Buddy, named so by his friend, his distant cousin who is in her sixties, is also small. His friend is described as "small and spritely" just like Queenie. The dog Buddy and his friend form a close knit family who appear outsiders to the others who live in the house.

Also, Queenie's burying her traditional Christmas bone foreshadows her death, his friend's decline, and the forced separation that occurs between Buddy and his cousin. Buddy is sent to military school; Queenie dies. His friend finally slips away, never again being able to say, "It's fruitcake weather!"

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In “A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote, the rat terrier named Queenie symbolizes a number of ideas.

The story is set in the poverty-stricken South, where Buddy and his cousin live in a house with extended family. This was a common practice at the time. Queenie functions as a third friend to Buddy and his cousin. The dog has a royal name but does not live a royal life. Queenie rides around in a dilapidated baby buggy instead of a fancy carriage and begs for table scraps. The dog can be found lounging in front of the fire in a royal fashion while Buddy and his cousin work on their fruitcakes.

Queenie has also sometimes been interpreted as a symbol of Truman Capote's connection to the people of different sexual orientations. Capote uses subtle symbolism with his use of the dog's name and the "fruitcakes" (see this argument). There was a lack of acceptance for gay people in the 1940s and 1950s; some think Capote subtly addresses this in his short story.

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