Study Guide

The Weidenbachs in A Long Way from Chicago

By Richard Peck

The Weidenbachs

Mr. and Mrs. Weidenbach are definitely not Grandma Dowdel's favorite people in town. The banker and his wife represent what Grandma disdains the most—rich people who turn a blind eye on the suffering of others. She even claims that they're worse than vampires:

"Vampires? No. The only bloodsuckers is the banks." Grandma stroked her chins. (6.39)

Grandma isn't scared of the Weidenbachs…but she doesn't like them, either. She thinks that they're more concerned with their image and personal wealth than actually bettering the community. And, guess what? She's 100 percent right.

Although Mr. and Mrs. Weidenbach may act like they're full of town pride and participate in all the public events, they don't actually step in to help when people are losing their homes and going bankrupt.

Grandma Dowdel is especially disgusted when Effie Wilcox's home is taken away from her after the woman spent her entire life as a part of the community. When Mr. Weidenbach calls Grandma out on forging the antiques that she sold at the rummage fair, she calls him out on being an unfeeling jerk:

"Mrs. Dowdel, you falsified those so-called Lincoln items. They're bogus. I could have the law on you."

"That's right." Grandma gazed above him at the wide-mouthed bass. "The banker throws the poor old widder in the pokey. That'll look real good for your business." (6.122-123)

Instead of being frightened by Mr. Weidenbach's threats, Grandma Dowdel calls his bluff…and shows him that she isn't going to be bullied.

It's clear that Mr. and Mrs. Weidenbach don't impress Grandma Dowdel at all with their wealth and status in town. They're just a couple of rich people who don't do much for the rest of the community…and that means that they don't matter that much at all.

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