Christmas Memory By Capote Essay

It is curious that as children, humans have the ability to observe and remember
details of specific situations and instances yet lack the ability to describe
them. Truman Capote, as a grown man, took advantage of his vivid memories and
composed the short work, “A Christmas Memory.” The story begins in late
November, a month symbolic of all the years gone by that Capote could remember
beginning preparations for Christmas fruitcakes. The year he has chosen, though,
is that of the last Christmas three friends spend together. A boy of seven,
Capote has but two friends: his “sixty-something” year old distant cousin
and a loyal, happy pooch named Buddy. Although the age difference between the
cousins is great, it is clear that the two are almost on the same level of
intelligence. His old cousin is not ignorant or innocent by choice, rather,
because of her frail condition she has been brushed off by adults and has never
outgrown her childish ways. As the narrator, Capote recounts memories of good
times; the times before his family members decided that home was not where he
belonged. Overall, the story is bittersweet because there is joy to be found in
the simplicity of the three friends’ happiness. However, after this specific
Christmas, Capote is forced to move out of his house and to leave his innocence
behind. The story is not purely self-serving because Capote uses this piece not
only to revisit his memories of happier times, but to also evoke the memories of
the readers. The theme of a loss of childhood innocence is one that many people
can relate to, as well. However, Capote composed this piece using the observant
eye of a youth juxtaposed against wisdom only gained with age. An uncommon usage
of colons is employed throughout his work to present different areas of text.

Although mostly used for introducing lists or great excerpts of quotes, Capote
uses colons for lists as well as for dividing lines of text to break the
monotony. Even more so, they are used as directions for the reader to understand
peoples’ movements and the exact details of the story. For instance, at one
point Capote writes: “Enter: two relatives. Very angry.” It is as if the
story is a play and he is the director telling the reader how to interpret the
scenes. Capote’s description of things is also different from the typical
person’s description. For example, to the laymen, the sun is a big, bright,
shiny ball of fire. To Capote, the sun rises “…round as orange and orange as
hot weather moons, balanc[ing] on the horizon, burnish[ing] the silvered winter
woods.” His word choice elicits more than just a visual sense of what he is
describing; they entice all the senses to jump into his memory. It is
distressing that the friends lack any real interaction with the others in the
household other than to be scolded. The reader feels as if perhaps the neglected
ones should be pitied. Yet, it is comforting that they find consolation in each
other and can appreciate each moment for its beauty. In the end, Capote recalls
his friend looking upon the land in front of them and back over time and
understanding, in a very mature manner, the profoundness of the world. With a
few words, an elderly lady who has not ventured outside her hometown reveals a
secret of life few ever realize. The kites that they give each other each year
represent a life of simple pleasures, when things were easier in Capote’s
world. This is why, in the end, Capote walks across the campus of his school
remembering days gone by, longing for the past, and searching for, again, the
simpler things in life and the meaning in a life void of happiness.

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