Up until now, the only work by Truman Capote that I had read was his short story “A Christmas Memory”. In looking through the titles of his stories, I ran across “The Thanksgiving Visitor”. On further reading, I found that it was a companion or sequel to “A Christmas Memory”, which I plan on re-reading in the near future so look for a post about it soon.
Both stories involve Buddy, a grade school boy who lives in small-town, Depression-era Alabama with five elderly relatives. Why he doesn’t live with his parents is only vaguely touched upon. His relative, Miss Sook, whom he refers to as “my friend”, is a very child-like adult for reasons that again are only vaguely explained.
In “The Thanksgiving Visitor”, Buddy is threatened by an older boy at his school, oddly named Odd Henderson. While he doesn’t explain to Miss Sook why he fears going to school, she intuitively begins to understand that it is because of “the Henderson boy” whose family she has known most of her life.
With child-like naivety, Miss Sook decides that inviting Odd to her and Buddy’s family Thanksgiving will solve the bullying problem. For obvious reasons, world-weary Buddy strongly opposes this. Odd accepts the invitation and the reader realizes there is more to him than meets the eye.
Capote’s descriptions of the geographical region, the time period and the Thanksgiving dinner, itself, make up the best parts of the story. Odd Henderson’s invitation to Thanksgiving strangely enough solves Buddy’s problem; however, as the story borders on being too sentimental, Capote wisely keeps Buddy and Odd from ever being anything more than acquaintances. Even with the sentimentality, it’s a beautiful story in its own right.