A Plot Overview of Truman Capote's Story "A Christmas Memory"

Categories: Literature

A Christmas Memory

Truman Capote’s story A Christmas Memory, is about Capote’s childhood memory of a particular holiday season and how he enjoyed that moment in time with a special friend. Capote is illustrated by the main character, Buddy. Buddy and his distant cousin have a bonding friendship and tell of their exploits during that Christmas. They pick out a very special Christmas tree, make each other presents, and make fruitcakes.

Capote was born in New Orleans as the son of a salesman and a 16-year-old beauty queen.

His father worked as a clerk for a steamboat company. He never stayed with any job for long, and was always leaving home in search of new opportunities. This put a strain on his parent’s marriage, which eventually led to divorce when he was four. Young Capote was brought up in Monroeville, Alabama. The story is also set in Monroeville. He lived some years with relatives, one of which is his cousin who became the model for several of his novels, stories, and plays.

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When his mother married again to a rich businessman, Capote moved to New York, and adopted his stepfather’s surname.

The story starts in a kitchen in a rural community in the Deep South, during the Depression in the 1930’s. The main characters through out the story are Buddy and his cousin. They are characterized indirectly and directly and are both stationary characters because they really do not change from the beginning to the end of the story.

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The story is written in the first person narrative. The narrator is a little boy talking about his own life. An example that exemplifies the first person narrative is “the person to whom she is speaking is myself. I am seven; she is sixty-something. We are each other’s best friend”(Capote).

During the story, Buddy and his cousin, prepare for the Christmas holiday. The setting and tone play a great role in defining the story. The characters are from a poor socioeconomic background, but they are still able to find the Christmas spirit. The wealth of their friendship and the gift of giving make them oblivious to the depression around them. In one particular scene, the friends are baking fruitcakes. They decide that the cakes are for “friends. Not necessarily neighbor friends: indeed, the larger share are intended for persons we’ve met maybe once, perhaps not at all”(Capote). This illustrates their giving nature regardless of their own dreary circumstances. Buddy is a reflection of Truman Capote himself. Capote’s childhood was filled with misfortunes, but yet he was still able to find peace in his friendship with his cousin.

The character of Buddy’s cousin also demonstrates simplicity and finding the good in what you have. “She is small sprightly, like a bantam hen; but due to a long youthful illness, her shoulders are pitifully hunched”(Capote). She is later described as childlike, Buddy says “she is still a child”(Capote). This may be some reference to her mental status and that she does not think like an adult, but a child. But once again, regardless of her less fortunate physical and mental attributes she is still happy and at peace. Near the end of the story, her and Buddy are out flying the kites that they made for each other. Though these may seem like ordinary gifts to many, to them they are the best gifts they have ever received. Cousin considers this day the best in her life and says ” “… I could leave the world with today in my eyes”(Capote). Capote is revealing through Cousin that regardless of the situation you can find the good in it.

Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory, tells of a small boy’s memory of one Christmas. He is able to use this one memory to define how the small things in life are the memories that we carry with us our whole life. He uses the setting and tone of the depressed South to illustrate how regardless of your present living situation you can still find happiness. He also uses Cousin to further emphasize this idea of appreciating the things you have and realizing that the simple events in our life are the ones that have a lasting impression. Capote himself has used Buddy and Cousin to tell the story of his own life and how his own simple memories have shaped his life.

. “Once a car stops and the rich mill owner’s lazy wife leans out of the car and whines: “Giveya twobits cash for that old tree.” Ordinarily my friend is afraid of saying no; but on this occasion she shakes her head. “Goodness woman you can get another one.” In answer my friend gently reflects: 1 doubt it. There’s never two of anything.”

. “That is why walking across a school campus on this particular December morning I keep searching the sky. As if I expected to see, rather like hearts, a lost pair of kites hurrying toward heaven.”


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A Plot Overview of Truman Capote's Story "A Christmas Memory". (2022, Apr 04). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/a-plot-overview-of-truman-capote-s-story-a-christmas-memory-essay

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