42 pages 1 hour read

Richard Peck

A Long Way from Chicago

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1998

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Symbols & Motifs

The Town

Grandma’s small town is both the main setting throughout the book and a symbol for childhood and change. As a location, the town offers Joey and Mary Alice the chance to experience a world very different from the one they know in Chicago. Unlike life in the city, they are able to wander on their own throughout the town without worrying about their safety, and this freedom allows them to meet an interesting array of characters. Before the story’s opening, train tracks were built through the center of the town, which put the town on the map. Rather than an out-of-the-way place that’s infrequently visited by outsiders, the town now sees newcomers pass through fairly frequently and receives an influx of guests during special events, much to the consternation of longtime residents like Grandma.

The town also represents change, both internal and external. For Joey and Mary Alice, the town helps to shape their childhoods, offering them perspectives they would never have experienced in the big city. Their adventures with their grandmother and interactions with the townspeople make the town a place of learning and self-discovery for them, as well as a symbol of the recurring theme of

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