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Cold Sassy Tree (Burns) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for Cold Sassy Tree:

1. How would you describe Rucker? Do you consider him a shallow human being? What possess him to marry Miss Love so soon after burying Mattie Lou?

2. Do the reactions of family and friends toward Rucker's new marriage seem genuine to you...or do they ring hollow? What was your initial reaction...did it change over the course of the novel?

3. What is your attitude toward Miss Love? Do you find her, a Yankee living in the South, sympathetic?

4. How would you describe the relationship between Rucker and Miss Love? Do they love one another...at first...eventually...never?   

5. The story is seen through the eyes of Will Tweedy. Why would the author have chosen a bare adolescent as narrator? Is Will's voice believable?

6. How would you describe life in Cold Sassy...especially the relationships among its citizens? Do you find small-town living, as described in the novel, appealing, even enviable...or judgmental and claustrophobic? 

7. Do small towns, like Cold Sassy, exist today...is it possible given the speed, ubiquity, and distractions of modern telecommunications and travel?

8. Which episodes do you find most humorous...the Christmas play? What else?

9. What do you think of Burns's use of dialect? Does it enhance the novel's sense of place for you? Or do you find it distracting and irritating?

10. How does Burns present Christianity as practiced in a small town in Georgia at the beginning of the 20th century? What do you think of Grandpa Rucker's sermon from his sick-bed?

11. Cold Sassy Tree is generally viewed as a coming-of-age story? What does Will come to learn, about the adult world and his place in it, by the end of the novel? In what way does he change? Do any other characters change?

12. What is the relationship between blacks and whites in Cold Sassy? Does Burns present African-Americans as fully developed characters...or stereotypes? Talk specifically about Queenie.

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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