The Nuclear Family In Cold Sassy Tree By Olive Ann Burns

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The Nuclear Family Nuclear Family. Noun. A couple and their dependent children, regarded as a basic social unit (Abate and Jewell, The New Oxford American Dictionary). This definition has changed in both meaning and prevalence over time; it used to signify just a father, a mother, and their children, but now it’s become more inclusive to families who didn 't quite meet that description. Also, this set-up is far less common that it was, since rates of single parents have skyrocketed over the past 50 years (Tenenbaum, “Honor Thy Mother”). Despite this, the nuclear family is still the basic foundation of all familial relationships today. The novel Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns is based on the lives (and deaths) of each member of a nuclear…show more content…
All four of these characters all share a flawed, yet close bond; at their core, they are fiercely loyal to each other even though they often disagree. Characters outside of this nuclear family, like Will Tweedy and Love Simpson, feel like outsiders since they can’t comprehend the complicated dynamics behind this group. In the novel Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns, the characters Mattie Lou, Rucker, Mary Willis, and Loma all feel conflicted by their differences and natural loyalty to each other, which adds to the book’s tone of confliction and confusion. In the novel Cold Sassy Tree, author Olive Ann Burns demonstrated the bonds between the original members of the Blakeslee family: Rucker, Mattie Lou, Mary Willis, and Loma. For instance, after Loma’s husband commits suicide, her father and sister comfort her in the quote “Mama [Mary Willis] got up from the bed and put her hand on Loma’s arm. ‘Sugar, here’s Pa,” she said softly....As we filed out, he was…show more content…
The death of Mattie Lou brought on countless disagreements between Rucker and his daughters, especially since he remarried a much younger woman, Miss Love Simpson, only three weeks after their beloved mother’s death. Their reaction to this scandalous news was illustrated in the quote “[Rucker]‘I’m aimin’ to marry Miss Love Simpson.’ Mama’s [Mary Willis’] and Aunt Loma’s mouths dropped open and their faces went white..Aunt Loma’s face got as red as if she’d been on the river all day, but it was Mama who finally spoke. In a timid voice she said…(Burns 5)”. The theme of confliction, like how these women feel loyal towards both their father (they want him to be happy) and their mother (they don’t want her reputation to be tarnished) continues for the rest of the novel. His remarriage nearly tears the remaining members of the nuclear family apart. The reactions each daughter had to this news demonstrates their character: Loma’s immediate anger foreshadows many of her actions, and Mary Willis’ shyness continues on throughout the story. For instance, her natural sheepishness inhibits her from speaking up for herself, like when she wanted to go to New York City but her father and his new wife decided to take the trip instead. This is signified in the excerpt “Mama hurried down the stair steps, carrying a bright smile and her nicest petticoats an nightgowns to hang out for airing. I knew she could hardly wait to tell
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