truman capote - the thanksgiving visitor

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"The Thanksgiving Visitor" is a short story by Truman Capote originally published in the November 1967 issue of McCall's magazine, and later published as a book by Random House, Inc. in 1968.[1] The story takes the form of a childhood tale about a boy and his bully problem. The story has a strong moral lesson related to revenge. It is a sequel to Capote's A Christmas Memory.


  • Trrs TneNrscrvrNG Vrsr.rotoe6nfo, to

    T.ll.t'out mean! odd Hmderson ws the nemest human crearure

    Ard I'm spaking ofa .welve-1ca-old bon not some groxtup whohes hrd the time ro ripen a mturally *il dispositioD. At least, Odd!:s trelve in 1932, when w mre borh wond-graders attending aseall-mm *hool in rural Alabma.

    Tall fot his age, a bony boy with muddy-red hair md narow )llor e1es, he rowered over all his closmares-rculd have in aay event,6r the rest of us were only smn or eight lcars old. Odd had failed6m grade rrice md *a now sening his second rerm in the se.ondgnde. This rctry record wcn't due ro dumbness-Odd was intellig.nt, naybe onning is a bener rcrd-t'ut he took after the rest oftlle Hendersons. The whole family (there were ten of them, notcountins Dad Herdetson, who rru a boodegger and sua[y jn iail,all scrunched together in a fou-room house nst door to a Negrochurch) \r a shifdess, surly bunch, oery one of them ready to doyou a bad ruq odd reo't the rcrst of tbe lot, md brother, that is

    Many childrD in our sch@l came from families poorer than theHendersons; Odd had a pair of shoes, while some boys, girls toq


    were forced to go barefooc righr through the bicrerest *acher-rhat's how hard the DePressiotr had hit Alab+ma Bur nobodv, Idon'c care who, looked as dom-and'our as odd-a skimv, freckledsarecrol, in sweacy cesFoffoveralls that would hart been a humilia'don ro a chain-gang convict You mighr have felt Pitv for him ifhehadn t been so hareful All the kids reared him. no! jusr s \oungerkids, but *en boys his om age and older

    Nobody oer picked a 6ghr eith him excePt one rime a gnl namedAnn "Iumbo" Fi'chburg, who happened ro be the other rown bu v'Jumbo, a sased-off but solid tombov with an all'hel-letloosewresrliDs cechdque, jumPed odd from behind duritrg recess onedul mornin& a,1d n took three ceachers, e*h ofwhom must haveushed the combatot! would kil eeh other, a good long while toseprate them. The result \6 a sorr ofdraw: Jumbo lost a tooth andhalfher hair and develoPed a gralsh cloud ia her left eve (she nevetcould see cle* again); odds afflicdons included a broken rhumb,plus sc(atch scars thrt wil stay wilh him to the d'v they shut his cof'6o. For months aftermtd, odd Plafd every kiod oftrick co goadJumbo inro a rematch; bucJurnbo had gotten her licks and gave himconsiderabte berth. As I would have done ifhe'd let me; alas, I wEs theobject of odds relentless attentions.

    Considering the era and locale, I was fairlv wel off-living, as I di4in a high-ceilinged old counrry house situ'ted wh're the town endedand the farrns and forests beg1n. The house belonged to drstaat rela-

    .ilts, elde+ coulins, and rhese cor.rsins, rhree maiden ldies 'rdtheir bahelor brother, had t l(en me under their roof because ofa disrurbance a.rnoog my more immediate famih a custody batderh.t, for inrclved realons, had left me stranded in this somewhat ec-ceotric Alabama household Not that I was urhaPPv thete; indeed,moments ofthose few years ru$ed our to be rhe haPPiest Part ofdothrwise dimcdr childhood, mainlv because the voungest of thecousins, a womm in her sixties, became my firsc friend As she w* achild herself (many Peopie thoughr her less chd chat, and mur-


    mured abour he! 6 chough she were the twin of poor nice LesterTucker, who .omed the screets in a sweet daze), she understood chil-dren, and understood me absolutely.

    P.rhaps ir wa strsge for a young boy to have a! his besr ftiend maging spinster, but neither ofus had d oidinary oudook or brk-sround, and so it war iflevirable, in our sepdate loneliness, that weshould come to share a friendship apart. Except for the hours I spent.r school, rhe rhre ofus, me md old Queenie, our feisry litde rar !er-rier and Miss Sook, s seryone called my friend, were almost al$aystogether. we hunced herbs ir the \roods, went fishing on remotecreeks (wich dried sugatcane stalks for fishing poles) md gathaedcurious ferns afld greeneries that we trosplmted md gew withrr.iling flourish in tin pails and chmber pors. Mosth though, ourtife was lived in the ki.chen-a farmhouse kiccheo, doniflated by abig black mod-burning stove, that wo often dark and sunny at thesame.ime.

    Miss Sook, sensirive a shy-lady fern, a recluse who had never trav-eled beyond the couty boundaries, was rotally unlike her brotherand sisters, rhe larter being do\tn-to-earth, vaguely msculine ladieswho operared a dry-goods store and sewral o.her business wnrures.The brothea Uncle 8., owned a number of cortor fems scarreredaround the countryside; because he refused ro drive a car or endureany coDtacr whate\,r with mobilized machinern he rode horseback,jogsing aI day from one properly m anothr. He {r! a kind man,.hough a silent one: he grunced rs or no, and rea.lly never opened hismouth except ro feed ir. At aery meal he had th appetite of dAlaskan grizly afcer a winrer's hibernation, and it war Miss sook srask to filI him up.

    Breakfat w6 our principa.l mea.l; mid&y dinf,er, ucept on Sun'dals, od supper were casual menus, often composed of leftoversfrom the morning. These breakfasrs, served pronptly at 5:30 A.M.,were regular stomach swellers. To the preseot day I retain a nostalgichuDser for those cockcrow repcts ofham and fried hicken, fried

    242 243

  • n.rL choDs, frted c'rnsh fled squirrel lrn season) fned eggs'

    ['i,; ;l;; ;,:;';;,..rxk eved peas corrards u(h (ouard Irquorl:l:lilJ;;;."'"in br'(uiis Pound'ake Pan('kesandm-o'il:J;;.;l;.r"...b. home'nad'e iams ,"d rerrie"wer mrLkfi."r-'*,'.",*" **'-fl'tord and hor a! Had's

    The .ook, 'ccomPanied

    by her ass$ta$rs' Que'nie and myself'

    -,"'*- -"*i" i' r"'r ronre the *ow and vc rhe rable and ger

    ::il;;;;;;:""* ai rhar hour wls no*he hrdshrp ir m'v

    lllil, .'.i-"." *"a -,i ,"d anldav we arwav



    I knew a loc of curse words }f( 'ven I $Et shocked when I hrd

    -i- ii*i."*,.** rn .,n awrtr s.ence sd Miss Armsrrons':J:**il;;;;;i:,i' *,,':y,'if :,#,: J*:;:: ::;hands. str. Palms uP, sn Then' whtle Udd


    '-il. *" tris*red the Parms or mv h ds wrth her ruler unrilthe room blurred'"'?

    *ii"n" ' "'*

    * smarl Pnnt io risr the rmarnr!iv' Punrsh'

    -j;: &;il;:',. *.rr ":"':i.ii ili*,[""117*.< the serxe ofdour expecrarions he 'ndu:?#;

    ";;;;;;'i r asked him "r'ishr ou'[ $ha( had I done

    l,j.5"i"i"iir*" -. 'o

    muchr suddenrv he relared r't me roose

    :""IH:'|r;;;a;'', r'm ius, slraishren,ns lou our 'He waslii.i',*.,.i"r.,'"';' and the mom"nr h' srid rt r reariTed rhereHl'.-i;;;.:;

    " 'o

    arter his rudsmenr o'[he.ho 'loughenmvselfto accePt od defend rhe fact"''*,"..

    * i 'o'*o

    *e Peace ofihe w'rm krr'hel w:ere a'lr'ej''

    ",Io,i"i, * .""-'"t * "la d'g

    "p uon" and mt iri'nd Pu*er ms

    I:' l';1";;:";;;;'r'r or oid Hendmon -ourd bre$edrv sride.-^*

    -..h.ulders Bur Loo otreD rr nltsht' rhe nat rou lton eves

    [::":1,':;T;,il,r" i', iu,' r,""n *'*.'ronouncing crLrerPromises hr'sed rn mv

    ea o(casionJty crres ansrngMv friend s bedroom was ne'r to mnei

    .# -J.ui-''" """":* *:T' l:;*:l ;::f:l: :T;

    ,"rl m' out of 3n odd Hendersonil;,H;;;:*"* "*" "'*1 3":"'" she\ shaking And:li-


    ,"r",",, i",i" *""gins wet' Ma)be $< ousht @ cJ Do'tor;;; ;;;;';*'"- .n"' r' "';' " r"'"" 'r'" r'*u

    rha'[ Ir was'be'

    :il:#;;;,;i;""'boor'ror rhad 'lordand rord her howoddHenderson rre ed me'"'l]l

    ..- i:J ',."*

    terkrns ibolr.ic nev'r m'n'ioned ii anv

    -J*.'i.""*'." ;i"."0 :" *-"':'::?:":H il',|]ITi:*"1:,s bd as I made hirr our' lnnocence' Pre:;::::;;:il;r''sora(edMrsssook kr'[herincapabreoFen'comPassing an eul 50 comPLere


    "oh,' she mighc say, rubbing hear inco my chiled hands"'h' onlv

    -.t , "n

    ,., .r, ofpJ""v He ' not smarr and Prelw as vou are''l. ,.*

    '"1""a""rn" "tng ro keeP

    'n mind BLrddv' is thrsbovcl" t

    i",, *'1', "i,r, n" -"*

    r know env difrerenr' all rhose Henderson

    .i.L*. r',*'*a ',

    n'a' And vou can lav rh'at rr D;d Henderson s

    J.." , O"n, ,tn" ." *, n, but that man never was 'rything exePr ai*.nl"? *o


    .r. ,tu *u know utrcte B' horsewhiPPed him once?

    .."'i. n. i*,-* "

    o;s d hoBewhiPPed hrm on the sPot' rhei"..i,"*,r'* *". n"pp*ed $E! when lhev locked him uP JtsLrte;*.. u.i. i;";;";'"orrv Henderson beror' she married Dad','i',i*" ..

    'r,*" .t"

    -as and fr'h from snmewhere aross rhe.*. ii"-*.'*o a. t"oe Dmvers dom rhe rod' le*rune ro be aO'.""-.UJh" *"a to Oiss hete and see me hoing in the gdden-.".ir ,.t',"


    *nn '"*lv

    red hair' md so rppreciatiw ofewrv

    .it"']i..",,i* * t'" her a bunch of sweet Peas or a raPonica',"oli"l* i*r'

    '" 'otr'cianve' rhen she besan srrorrins bvdm

    ,, ..- *t* orAn*a""on-and him so much older and a perfecr,..- Or"r*, **. *tU' rhe t'rd must haw H$ re&sons' But ii s,]i-"-.,

    ".rt.- ' o" rnore thar rhirw-Eve rd rhere she rs with-

    "", ".."rn *'n* t*a * a dlme m her name Nothing but a house-

    ii .r "r,ira.""

    .o feed You've sor ro take al1 that into account'

    Ruddv. and be Pa.Eienr'""-",."r.,

    *f'r. ** tn" u'e ofdi\cussing 't? Pinallv Ehough myn,""i i,J

    -.t**o 'he seriousnes of mv despeir' rhe realiza'

    ,,"" *,*"0 '.

    , O"*' 'ay ard

    *as nor the outcome of unhappv

    ,i*:r. *"** l" otJins scenes with uncle B It happened one,,i"v November rwilighr *hen we w're si(flng Jone tn the kirchen)il.1t..'i or"-"-" ore.upper was over' rhe dshe' sracked ard..,"*;i";;.i* i'

    " "'ke' s"'"'s I courd hed mv rriends

    ;;:.:";;;;;";;""nderrhe rkppinsnoiseorrain on rheroor


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