Walk Two Moons | Study Guide

Sharon Creech

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Course Hero. "Walk Two Moons Study Guide." August 23, 2017. Accessed November 14, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Walk-Two-Moons/.


Course Hero, "Walk Two Moons Study Guide," August 23, 2017, accessed November 14, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Walk-Two-Moons/.

Walk Two Moons | Chapters 11–12 | Summary



Chapter 11: Flinching

As they drive into Minnesota Sal tells her grandparents of the second message the Winterbottoms received: "Everyone has his own agenda." Sal, Phoebe, and Mary Lou puzzle over the messages' meanings. Ben draws a cartoon of "two Indian moccasins with two moons in them" to illustrate the first message. This is exactly how Sal interpreted the saying before her father explained its meaning to her.

Ben's unexpected embrace makes Sal uncomfortable. Sal and Phoebe see the lunatic at the store. As Ben walks Sal and Phoebe home, he remarks how both girls flinch when touched. He asks about Sal's mother, and Sal brushes him off, saying she's in Lewiston, Idaho.

Sal is bothered by how tense she and Phoebe are. Her family "used to be a hugging family." She wonders if her mother left because Sal was becoming stiff and unaffectionate with her like the Winterbottoms are with one another.

Ben helps Mrs. Cadaver unload her car despite Phoebe's warning. Sal and Phoebe see Ben carrying an axe into Mrs. Cadaver's house. When Phoebe shows her mother the second message, Mrs. Winterbottom is disturbed, and says, "I want to know who is sending these."

Sal asks her father what it means when a person flinches when touched. She realizes her father has been crying. They hug, and Sal doesn't flinch.

Chapter 12: The Marriage Bed

Sal and her grandparents take a detour near the South Dakota border to visit Pipestone National Monument in Pipestone, Minnesota.

At the monument Sal asks one of the quarry workers if he's a "Native American person" and he responds that he is "an American Indian person." Sal says, "So am I. In my blood." Gram, Gramps, and Sal share a peace pipe with the man, Sal feels like the smoke she exhales is her mother disappearing. They stay in a hotel, whose name has been changed from "Injun Joe's Peace Palace Motel" to "Native American Joe's," although the towels have been altered to read "Indian Joe's."

Gramps remarks that the hotel bed "ain't our marriage bed, but it will do." The marriage bed is where Gramps, his siblings, and his children were born. As Gramps carried his bride into their cabin on their wedding night, he cried when he saw that his parents' bed had been placed inside. Sal wonders if "she'll ever have a marriage bed like theirs."


In these chapters Sal wrestles with her identity worries that her friendship with Phoebe is influencing her negatively. At first Sal was excited and intrigued by Phoebe's dramatic worldview, but now Sal realizes that Phoebe's flair for drama overlays a profound inner discomfort. Not only is Phoebe deeply anxious, she is alienated from and resentful of her mother. Sal is upset when she realizes that her anxieties are visible to others, like Ben, and she is distressed by the idea that she might have caused her mother to leave her. The second message mirrors Sal's experience in this part of the book, as she realizes the extent to which people's actions are dictated by their inner lives.

In Chapter 12 Sal revises the terminology she uses to describe her heritage. She has long been partial to the term "Indian," like her mother and grandmother, but now begins using the term "American Indian," after the quarry worker uses it. Seeing the confusion over terminology at the Pipestone hotel, Sal is annoyed that nobody can agree on what words to use. This situation is reflective of some of the book's major themes: the importance of names in constructing and reflecting identity and the ever-present nature of the past. The confusion also reflects an outsider's view of American Indian culture, implying that all Native Americans should assume the same label. It is Sal's first time participating in the tradition of the peace pipe, but her connection with the ritual is immediate—Sal has no trouble finding meaning in the act of smoking, seeing the exhalation of smoke as symbolic of the "release" she must allow her mother if she is to find peace in her grief. It is clear that Sal longs for stability and connection to her identity and her home, like her grandparents have with their marriage bed.

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