Several stories center on the community's response to an individual who is in some way an outsider—a polygamous wife who has been left alone after the 1890 Manifesto ostensibly banned such marriages; a black family from Tennessee, directed to Manti by one of the town's missionaries; a woman whose husband has fallen away from the faith—and the child's observations of the behavior of town members towards this outsider. Why, for example, are members of the community more sympathetic to the man who killed Lena's husband than they are to Lena? Why do they so distrust "the Negro"? Why is "the darling lady" all alone in her little store? Why doesn't she have a family? Other stories are stories of initiation—sometimes into the pleasures and pains of growing up, but other times into the adult knowledge of death and loss and destructive human behavior. In her Newbery Award acceptance speech, Sorensen says, "[A] story has its own being and . . . if one tells it true, and to the very end, there is always death in it."