The Sailboat

Dicey's sailboat becomes as much a part of the routine of the book as it becomes a part of her daily routine. She is always thinking about the finished product, or about supplies for the boat, or wondering where she can find time that day to work on the boat. The sailboat symbolizes Dicey's ability to take care of herself as well as symbolizing her dreams of freedom and motion. At the beginning of the book, Dicey devotes perhaps too much time to the boat, to herself, and Sammy frets restively around her until she strikes a better balance between paying attention to him and working on the boat. The boat remains an almost unspoken dream throughout the book and only in the last few chapters does Dicey begin to imagine vividly and in great detail the act of sailing her boat. The act of sailing, in the wooden boat given to her by Gram, symbolizes Dicey's hunger for freedom and change, even while remaining closely intertwined with her family members, symbolized by the wood of the boat.

The Apron

Dicey crafts an ugly and useless apron for an assignment, which she is forced to don in front of her classmates. Dicey does not put effort into creating this apron because she is resentful of what she perceives as the uselessness of her home economics class. Dicey has followed the specifications of the assignment while not attempting to understand or create anything functional, mimicking what she perceives as Miss Eversleigh's unreasonable and petty concern for trivial, useless skills. Dicey wears her resentment and disrespect for Miss Eversleigh and home economics by wearing the tattered, poorly created apron.


Gram helps Sammy normalize his social situation at school by bringing a bag of old marbles in the attic and playing with the second graders. This action is symbolically appropriate for a number of reasons. First, Gram again turns to the attic, symbol of her past, for ammunition in helping her grandchildren. Second, Gram cleverly demonstrates to the children, who are teasing Sammy for having a crazy grandmother, that she has indeed not lost her marbles, but is good enough to win all of theirs. The marbles symbolize Gram's devilish and unconventional way of dealing with problems.