Study Guide

A Year Down Yonder Narrator Point of View

By Richard Peck

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Narrator Point of View

First Person (Central Narrator)

A Year Down Yonder is told completely from Mary Alice Dowdel's perspective, which gives us an inside view into her feelings. So while she may look stoic on the outside when she's sent away from Chicago, the first person narration means that we know how she really feels about it: I had to go down to live with Grandma Dowdel, till we could get on our feet as a family again. It meant I'd have to leave my school. I'd have to enroll in the hick-town school where Grandma lived. Me, a city girl, in a town that didn't even have a picture show. (P.9)

So we know exactly what Mary Alice thinks about her grandmother's town, her high school, and her classmates right from the get-go. Needless to say, she's not impressed.

She describes her classroom "at the top of some rickety stairs" where students sit "two-by-two in old-timey double desks" (1.45, 1.46). Regarding her classmates' hospitality, Mary Alice makes the point that "Anybody who thinks small towns are friendlier than big cities lives in a big city" (2.40).

Mary Alice isn't one to pull punches—she calls 'em like she sees 'em. And because we get the entire story delivered in her honest, down-to-earth voice, we always know what she really thinks of her surroundings.

Also, thanks to this first person point-of-view, we get to see, up close and personal, how her perspective of the town, her grandmother, and herself change over the course of the story.

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