Friday, December 25, 2009

The World According to Miss Sook: Quotations from Truman Capote Stories

In Truman Capote's mostly autobiographical short story "A Christmas Memory," featuring Buddy, the young boy being raised by distant relatives in rural Alabama in the early 1930s, Buddy's constant companion is an old woman whom he simply calls "my friend." Capote names her "Miss Sook" in "The Thanksgiving Visitor," a second Buddy story. Based on his relative Nanny Rumbley Faulk, the elderly woman is described as childlike and unschooled, but to Buddy she is the source of much wisdom.

For Christmas, here is a collection of her quotes from two stories.

from "The Thanksgiving Visitor":

We really all of us ought to have everything we want. I'll bet you a dime that's what the Lord intends. And when all around us we see people who can't satisfy the plainest needs, I feel ashamed. Oh, not for myself, because who am I, an old nobody who never owned a mite; if I hadn't had a family to pay my way, I'd have starved or been sent to the County Home. The shame I feel is for all of us who have anything extra when other people have nothing.

My mother said, 'The day may come when all we can offer is well water and cold cornbread, but at least we'll be able to serve it on a table set with proper linen.'

Chrysanthemums ... are like lions. Kingly characters. I always expect them to spring. To turn on me with a growl and a roar.

Now listen to me, Buddy: there is only one unpardonable sin - deliberate cruelty. All else can be forgiven. That, never. Do you understand me, Buddy?

She does, however, forgive him.

from "A Christmas Memory":

Oh, my ... it's fruitcake weather!

Oh, Buddy, stop stuffing biscuits and fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat. We've thirty cakes to bake.

We can't mess around with thirteen. The cakes will fall. Or put somebody in the cemetery. Why, I wouldn't think of getting out of bed on the thirteenth.

It's bad enough in life to do without something you want; but confound it, what gets my goat is not being able to give somebody something you want them to have.

Well, I can't sleep a hoot, ... My mind's jumping like a jack rabbit. Buddy, do you think Mrs. Roosevelt will seve our cake at dinner?

I always thought a body would have to be sick and dying before they saw the Lord. And I imagined that when He came it would be like looking at the Baptist window: pretty as coloured glass with the sun pouring through, such a shine you don't know it's getting dark. And it's been a coloured glass with the sun shining through, such a spooky feeling. But I'll wager it never happens. I'll wager at the end a body realizes the Lord has already shown himself. That things as they are ... just what they've always seen, was seeing Him. As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.

Have a Merry Christmas!

No comments: