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Although Alice is in her sixties, she is one of the gutsiest characters in the novel. She takes a risk that women half her age are often reluctant to take, leaving her husband and the only home she knows in the hope that she will find a life that offers more warmth and communion. Her journey to find this new life adds a rich subplot to the novel. Alice's entrance into the Cherokee community represents the way that she is seeking out the experiences and places that Harland is happy to merely watch on T.V. Alice undergoes a bit of a personal transformation as she experiences a whole new way of life, and reaches beyond the boundaries of her old self. She thinks, for instance, that she would never go pick poke like Sugar does, since anyone who saw her would think her crazy. Now she is in a place where no one judges "crazy" quite so quickly.
Alice's character also helps develop the motherhood themes in the novel, since Alice, like Taylor, will do anything for her daughter. She does not for a second question her loyalties when she finds out Cash's relationship to Turtle; she stands firm beside her daughter.
Alice's character provides the novel a way into the Cherokee Nation, familiarizing the reader with this other world, before Turtle and Taylor arrive there. In many ways, Alice mediates between the two worlds. In the end, she is literally the bond that bridges Taylor with the Cherokee people. Her character allows the white world and the Cherokee world to become one legal family through her marriage to Cash.