Jeremiah has a knack for cutting to the heart of the matter. Example page 28 he says, “Everybody thumps something, Reuben.”
Pithy dialogue consists of concise and forcefully expressive language. Basically what this means is that the words spoken by the character, or person, are meant to evoke emotion from the one they are speaking to or from the reader.
In regards to Peace Like a River, language and dialogue is important when examining the understandable character, the indirect characterization, as described by the author.
Given the fact that the narrator, Reuben, is an eleven year old boy, many would not expect him to possess the social filters normally engaged in dialogue. Instead, his language is riddled with forcefully expressive verbiage.
At one point in the novel, Reuben admits that he is "beyond my depth and knowing it, yet unable to shut up.” This shows the pithy of his conversations. Regardless of his knowledge of not being able to understand certain things, his inability to keep it to himself proves to be pithy.
Another example of Reuben's pithy language is when he is describing the fact that it excites him to tell his friends that he almost died when he was born.
When you are seven years old there is nothing as lovely and tragic as telling your friends you were just about dead once.
One prominent forcefully expressive part of Reuben's ideology on miracles.
Real miracles bother people, like strange sudden pains unknown in medical literature. It's true: They rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in. Lazarus obeying orders and climbing up out of the grave - now there's a miracle, and you can bet it upset a lot of folks who were standing around at the time. When a person dies, the earth is generally unwilling to cough him back up. A miracle contradicts the will of the earth.
One cannot deny Reuben's expressive language. The fact that he is eleven makes it even more compelling. Regardless, his thoughts, as provided through his narration, are filled with emotion, concise language, and are forcefully expressive.