"Dicey noticed from above what could not be seen from below. There were strong twisted wires running around the tree. 'Why is it wired?' she asked. 'Because paper mulberries are fragile,' her grandmother answered. 'It's the way they spread out at the top, it's the way they grow. If you didn't brace it, the weight of the leaves and the growing branches would pull the tree apart. Like families.'"

In Chapter 8 of Part Two, shortly after Dicey and her siblings have arrived at their grandmother's, Dicey takes notice of the huge tree in the front yard. Gram's words about the tree and what it symbolizes resonate both with Dicey and with Gram. Dicey knows how difficult it can be to keep a family together. Dicey's determination forms the wire that holds her siblings together against the weight of the adult world, which would pull them apart from each other. To Gram, the words are even more complex. The tree, after all, is not pulled apart by outside forces, but by itself. Gram is first of all alluding to families in general: as children and parents grow older, their own adventures and desires take them farther and farther away from each other, and need some sort of metaphorical wire to counter the weight of that spreading growth. At the same time, Gram is referring to her own immediate family. The family's own weight—the weight of its promises, stubbornness, and pride—have pulled it apart.