When A Year Down Yonder opens, Mary Alice is making the sacrifice of leaving her beloved Chicago and going to stay with her grandmother because her family is too poor to afford an apartment with two rooms. Even though she's a teenager and bristling at the injustice of it all, she's not going to make her parents feel bad for it because she loves them.
And in her year with Grandma Dowdel, she learns that it's not always about her. In truth, there are many sacrifices she's willing to make in order to care for the ones she loves—because that's what her grandmother demonstrates again and again.
Questions About Sacrifice
Why doesn't Grandma Dowdel buy herself a ticket to Chicago for Christmas too?
Does Mary Alice actually want to stay on with her grandmother when her parents get a bigger apartment? Why or why not?
Why does Grandma Dowdel spend so many winter nights going out and trapping foxes? Why does Mary Alice insist on going with her?
Chew on This
Of all the characters in the book, Grandma Dowdel sacrifices the most for the good of others.
Mary Alice doesn't actually want to stay in Grandma Dowdel's little town at the end; she's only offering because she knows that someone should be there to take care of her grandmother in her old age.