Study Guide

A Long Way from Chicago Lies and Deceit

By Richard Peck

Lies and Deceit

Like we've said before, Grandma Dowdel isn't a stickler for honesty and the truth in A Long Way from Chicago. Instead, she seems to relish in telling tall tales and spreading all sorts of lies…especially if they help her achieve her goals.

So, from her perspective, it's totally fine to say that Shotgun Cheatham was a Civil War hero, steal the sheriff's boat to go fishing, and pretend that Effie Wilcox's house is full of mementos that belonged to Abraham Lincoln and his wife—because she's only doing all of these things to help people in need and to put busybodies in their place.

Questions About Lies and Deceit

  1. Do the kids approve of Grandma Dowdel's lies? Why or why not?
  2. What does Grandma Dowdel do when people call her out on her lies?
  3. Why does Mary Alice lie about keeping Vandalia hidden in their house?

Chew on This

Grandma Dowdel lies a lot, but she only does so to help other people—like when she does it to get Joey a free plane ride or help Vandalia run away from her abusive mother.

Even though Grandma Dowdel lies blatantly a lot of the time, she isn't afraid that she'll get caught or called out on it, which is why she holds so much power. Even when Mr. Weidenbach says that he'll call the law on her, she remains calm so that he can't do anything to threaten her.

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