Walk Two Moons | Study Guide

Sharon Creech

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Course Hero, "Walk Two Moons Study Guide," August 23, 2017, accessed April 24, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Walk-Two-Moons/.

Walk Two Moons | Chapters 13–14 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 13: Bouncing Birkway

Sal tells her grandparents about her enthusiastic, energetic English teacher, Mr. Birkway. On the first day of class he takes up the journals the students have written over the summer, but the students don't want Mr. Birkway to read their journals. Sal is nervous—because she is new at the school she doesn't have a journal to hand in. Mr. Birkway assures her he'll "think of something" for her to do. Sal indicates that the journals will end up causing a lot of trouble between the students.

Chapter 14: The Rhododendron

Sal describes how, while visiting Phoebe at her house, they watch Mrs. Cadaver working in her garden. Through the window, they see Mr. Birkway arrive and relocate a rhododendron bush in Mrs. Cadaver's yard. Phoebe, who is extremely anxious since the messages started arriving, says perhaps Mr. Cadaver's chopped-up corpse is buried under the bush and that Sal's father shouldn't go to her house any more. Sal resents how her father's sadness seems to disappear when he is with Mrs. Cadaver, saying, "I didn't want my father to be sad, but at least when he was sad, I knew he was remembering my mother."

When Mrs. Winterbottom gets home, she seems sad. Sal wonders why Phoebe doesn't want to help or comfort her mother and whether she also purposely overlooked things about her own mother. They overhear Mrs. Winterbottom asking Phoebe's sister Prudence if Prudence thinks she "lead[s] a tiny life." Sal decides that Mrs. Winterbottom plays the part of dutiful housewife and mother so that she feels like she has a purpose. Sal's father tries to talk to her about Mrs. Cadaver, but Sal refuses to hear what he has to say.

Analysis

The primary theme of these chapters concerns the private inner lives of the characters. People are like icebergs in that only a small portion of a person is visible to others. Most of what makes up a person is hidden inside and rarely revealed. By asking his students to write journals and then collecting and reading them, Mr. Birkway challenges this situation. He is essentially demanding that his students reveal their private, innermost selves, and this makes his students quite uncomfortable.

Both Phoebe and Sal refuse to get to know Mrs. Cadaver; instead, they make assumptions about who she is based on her external actions and their own agendas. Sal is seeing the truth of the second mysterious message, "everyone has his own agenda," in her life. Mrs. Winterbottom is a mystery to her own daughters, who are too wrapped up in their own issues to be concerned with their mother's problems, hopes, and wishes. Sal realizes that she may have committed such an error in the way she related to her own mother by refusing to see who her mother really was because it was too painful or difficult. Sal is aware that she is committing this very error regarding Mrs. Cadaver, who is always nice and welcoming to Sal. But Sal is so wrapped up in her own story and her own grief that she lacks the emotional energy to investigate this woman, who seems to make Sal's father so happy.

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