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Dicey's Song

Cynthia Voigt

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Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics

full title · Dicey's Song

author · Cynthia Voigt

type of work · Young adult novel

genre · Problem novel

language · English

time and place written · Annapolis, Maryland, 1981–1982

date of first publication · 1982

publisher · Athaneum

point of view · The narrator speaks in the third person, but focuses on Dicey's experiences and perceptions.

tone · The narrator speaks in a straightforward and objective tone

tense · Simple past

setting (time) · Early 1980s

setting (place) · Southern Maryland

protagonist · Dicey Tillerman

major conflict · Dicey struggles to come to terms with her mother's mental illness and her role in her family.

rising action · Dicey, who has shepherded her siblings from Massachusetts, where her mentally ill mother abandoned them, to their grandmother's house in Maryland, struggles to understand her new role as a positive and supportive emotional presence in her siblings' lives. She helps her siblings face their problems, she establishes a strong relationship with her grandmother, and even begins to reach out to people in her school when Gram rushes her off to Boston on short notice.

climax · In Boston, Gram and Dicey find Momma, who is on her deathbed. Gram and Dicey sit with Momma and make their goodbyes, and she dies the morning after they arrive.

falling action · Gram and Dicey bring Momma back to be buried near the house in Maryland. Gram brings the family album down to share with the children on the night they bury Momma.

themes · The appeal of the unusual; the connection between reaching out and receiving; holding on by letting go and letting go by holding on

motifs · Music; clothing; essays

symbols · Sailboat; apron; marbles

foreshadowing · The letters from the Boston mental hospital foreshadow Momma's death

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