Did Buddy Die in Fried Green Tomatoes?

Fried Green Tomatoes‘ presents the life story of two women who ran the town’s Whistle Stop Cafe together, as told fifty years later by their family friend, Ninny, in a nursing home. Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison, the cafe owners in question, have known each other for a long time, constantly threading in and out of each other’s lives until finally settling down together. Within their story, Buddy remains an incredibly significant character— both as Idgie’s older brother and— later, Ruth’s young son, named after the former man. Therefore, considering the magnitude of these boys in Idgie and Ruth’s story, viewers must be curious to know about their predicament as the story unfolds. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Buddy’s Untimely Death

In many ways, Idgie and Ruth’s story begins with a fateful Threadgoode wedding that ends up befalling misfortune on the family. On the day of Idgie and Buddy’s older sister, Leona’s wedding, the two wander off after the ceremony along with Ruth, Buddy’s girlfriend. The trio hangs out together on a bridge until the wind flies Ruth’s sunhat away into the meadow underneath the bridge. Naturally, Buddy goes to retrieve the hat, which settles atop the railroad tracks. However, the boy’s leg gets caught between the tracks right as the incoming train’s whistle makes its presence known.

Although Buddy tries to unlace his boots in time to make an escape, he’s too late and ends up getting caught under the train, which fails to stop in time to prevent the collision. Idgie and Ruth witness the horrifying accident on the bridge, unable to save Buddy. The incident ends up intrinsically changing Idgie, who grows up to become a rebellious, tomboyish young woman, spending her days drinking, gambling, and getting in trouble. Furthermore, the loss hits both girls hard enough that they go years without ever speaking to each other again since the other would likely only serve as an unpleasant reminder of Buddy.

Nonetheless, years later, Idgie and Ruth’s paths cross again, marking the start of their lifelong companionship. After spending a whirlwind summer together, the two women depart from each other’s lives again due to Ruth’s marriage. Yet, they find their way back to each other again as Idgie helps her friend escape from an abusive marriage once she learns about her pregnancy. Thus, the two women go on to live their lives together and raise Ruth’s son, whom they name Buddy Jr. after the boy both women lost years ago.

Buddy Jr. Undergoes Immense Loss in His Life

Buddy Jr. faces some threats as a baby when his father, Frank Bennett, an abusive husband and a white supremacist, attempts to take him away from Idgie and Ruth. Nevertheless, the problem resolves itself after the man mysteriously goes missing and is assumed dead. As a result, the boy continues to grow under his mother’s loving affection, with Idgie posing as another loving parent in the boy’s life. The three of them continue to be a happy family.

However, one day, while Buddy is playing around, he ends up in a similar position as his namesake, Buddy Sr., and gets stuck in the train tracks as a locomotive speedily makes its way to him. Nonetheless, he manages to barely escape with his life and only loses an arm in the process. Later, the young boy insists on having a funeral for his arm, which he names “Stump.” Still, thankfully, the funeral is only for Buddy Jr.’s arm, and the rest of him remains intact and well.

Although his newfound disability invites some unfriendly comments from his peers, Buddy Jr. continues to be a happy-go-lucky kid. That is until the dreadful news of his mother’s declining health arrives. By the time the doctors diagnose Ruth with cancer, the woman only has a few weeks to live. As such, Buddy has to watch his mother wither away while confined to a dark room and a bed. Even in death, Ruth doesn’t wish to cause her son any hurt and asks Idgie to ensure he doesn’t attend her funeral.

Eventually, Buddy Jr. says a teary goodbye to his mother, Ruth, and loses her to cancer. Still, he will always have Idgie with him, who goes on to become the kid’s primary caregiver. The pair share a special bond akin to the one Idgie had with her brother and Buddy Jr.’s namesake and remain a family of two.

Read More: Is Fried Green Tomatoes Based on a True Story?