Study Guide

A Long Way from Chicago Friendship

By Richard Peck

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At first, Grandma Dowdel seems like the kind of woman who doesn't have many friends. After all, she lives quite the solitary life and appears to disdain all the gossips and busybodies in town. Plus, she's just…weird.

But as the kids spend more time with her, they realize that she's a good friend to many people; she's just not showy about it. She helps out Effie Wilcox when her house gets foreclosed on, helps Vandalia Eubanks escape from her awful mother, and makes a point of feeding all the poor people she sees…which is a lot, considering that A Long Way from Chicago takes place during the Great Depression.

Questions About Friendship

  1. Does Grandma Dowdel really hate Effie so much? Why or why not?
  2. How do Joey and Mary Alice eventually become friends (on top of being siblings) over the years?
  3. Why does Mary Alice extend her friendship to Vandalia Eubanks?

Chew on This

Grandma Dowdel talks like she can't stand Effie Wilcox and would like to see her leave forever, but through her actions, she shows that she considers the woman a good friend—and that she'll do anything to help her out.

Even though Grandma Dowdel isn't affectionate or vocal about her friendships, she sticks with people through thick and thin without asking for anything in return. That's why she continues to help out Aunt Puss, even though the old lady is nasty and rude to her.

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