42 pages 1 hour read

Richard Peck

A Long Way from Chicago

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1998

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Character Analysis


Grandma is the protagonist of A Long Way From Chicago. Although the stories are never told from her point of view, they all revolve around her lively activities and schemes, and the sheer power of her personality has a profound influence on both Joey and Mary Alice as the shenanigans of each summer ensue. While her character arc is atypical in that she doesn’t learn a critical lesson or grow in a substantial way by the end of the book, her decisive and unconventional actions drive both the primary plotline and the development of the other characters. In the various stories presented throughout the novel, Grandma makes the plans and orchestrates how others will participate in them. Richard Peck therefore creates an environment designed to inspire hope in Grandma’s success, rather than in Joey’s or Mary Alice’s, because Grandma is the liveliest character and has the most at stake in any given predicament.

Throughout each of the short stories, Grandma stands as a force to be reckoned with and exemplifies the book’s major theme of The Supportive Power of Family. No matter what the situation happens to be, or whether or not she is technically in the wrong, she always lives life on her own terms and does what she wants, regardless of how others might view her choices.