Why does Campbell commit suicide in "Cold Sassy Tree?"

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Campbell Williams - Loma's husband (uncle to Will) - is not a successful man.  He is unable to understand his bossy and selfish wife, and so is unable to make her happy.  Campbell struggles in all areas of his life.  He has no specific skills, is clumsy, and has trouble with people.  Thus, he fails at work as much as he does at home.  Unable to cope with his failings, Campbell chooses to end his life.

This idea of life of death - of wondering what life is worth living for - is a dominate theme of Cold Sassy Tree.  There is much pain in the story.  The death of Mattie, the attitude of the town towards Miss Love, the robbery and beating of Rucker, the lose (for Will) of his own love... all these things leave Will wondering if Campbell didn't have the right idea after all.  What is so great about staying alive if all there will be is pain?  His grandfather, while on his deathbed, has an answer for Will on this topic:

"We can ast for comfort and hope and patience and courage . . . and we’ll git what we ast for. They ain’t no gar’ntee thet we ain’t go’n have no troubles and ain’t go’n die. But shore as frogs croak and cows bellow, God’ll forgive us if’n we ast Him to."

Rucker insists to Will that God will provide us with as much hope as we have pain, and that He will forgive our sins and welcome us home in the end.  Therefore, we should accept what life is.

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Cold Sassy Tree

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