Study Guide

A Year Down Yonder Grandma Dowdel's Pies

By Richard Peck

Grandma Dowdel's Pies

Besides sharpshooting, Grandma Dowdel is also highly skilled in the art of pie-baking.

When Halloween comes around and the school puts on a party, Grandma Dowdel decides that she and Mary Alice are going to bring loads and loads of pecan and pumpkin pies. The trouble is that Grandma doesn't have any pumpkins or pecans in her yard—and so they have to steal them in the middle of the night:

We were in sight of home when I said, "Grandma, in your opinion, was taking those pumpkins steal"

"We'll leave a pie on their porch," she said. "And don't tip them pecans out of the wagon. We've already picked them up once." (2.75-76)

Grandma Dowdel figures it's okay because they're not stealing for themselves. After all, in true Robin Hood fashion, they're just trying to make sure that everyone has enough to eat. When they show up at the party with all their pies, everyone falls upon them because these are hard times…and folks are hungry:

As she said later, we fed the multitudes. It was like the loaves and the fishes, with pie for all. (2.107)

Grandma's pies aren't just delectable baked goods. They're a way of helping the people around her, and making sure that they get to taste some true indulgence in these meager times. And really, they're a symbol for Grandma's way of doing business. She may break a few rules along the way, but most of her escapades end well and wind up serving a greater good.

In other words, the way Grandma operates, the ends often justify the means. And those pies? They're the "ends" in that scenario.

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