Walk Two Moons | Study Guide

Sharon Creech

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Walk Two Moons | Chapters 37–38 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 37: A Kiss

Sal describes how, upon seeing Mrs. Winterbottom kissing the lunatic, she alone runs from the dormitory to the hospital. When Sal impulsively asks for Mrs. Finney, she learns that she is on the psychiatric ward. On the hospital lawn Ben introduces Sal to his mother, and he and Sal follow Mrs. Finney around as she wanders all over the yard, not seeming to notice them. When Sal says she must be going, she and Ben "both had the same agenda" and kiss each other. The experience reminds Sal of the picture of the two faces and the vase that Mr. Birkway showed the class as well as the "newly born horse who knows nothing but feels everything" from the e.e. cummings poem. Ben asks Sal if the kiss tasted "a little like blackberries."

Chapter 38: Spit

Gram is happy to hear about Sal's kiss with Ben and asks Sal to explain Mrs. Winterbottom's kiss with the lunatic.

Sal finds Phoebe at a bus stop, disgusted with having seen her mother and the lunatic enjoying each other's company and even spitting on the grass. Phoebe says, "I'm sick of it. My mother can stay there for all I care. She doesn't need me." Prudence announces that Mrs. Winterbottom called to say she'd be returning the following day and would be bringing someone with her. Mr. Winterbottom wants to know who is coming with his wife and grows agitated, but sullen Phoebe goes into her room without telling her family what she saw. Sal worries that the Winterbottoms' "whole world was going to fall apart...when Mrs. Winterbottom walked in all cuddly with the lunatic."

Analysis

Sal correctly intuits that Ben has gone to the hospital to visit his mother, although Ben has never discussed his mother with Sal—just as Sal has never told Ben the truth about her own mother. Sal knew that something must have happened to Ben's mother for him to be living with Mary Lou's family. The kiss that Ben and Sal share is their first successful, mutually desired act of physical contact—and Sal frames the experience in the language of the lunatic's second message, as well relating it to the things she has been exposed to in English class. So far Ben's and Sal's attempts to touch each other have been awkward or fumbled. But Sal has now witnessed Ben's mother—just as Ben has now witnessed Sal's mother, in the words that she used to describe the blackberry kiss in her journal. They have, therefore, bared a great part of their souls to one another, and their successful kiss symbolizes this intimacy.

However, the kiss between Mrs. Winterbottom and the lunatic remains unexplained. Phoebe experiences a major emotional shift when she sees her mother acting happy without her. Phoebe feels rejected in the role of daughter, and this rejection causes her to metaphorically "leave" her mother, as she goes from being obsessed with finding her mother to claiming not to care whether she ever returns. This sense of being unneeded in one's primary role and the feeling of confusion as a result is the same thing that drove Mrs. Winterbottom to leave her family. She didn't know who she was, other than a wife and mother to a family who seemed not to notice or like her very much—so she left. This is another example of the theme of mirroring, as Phoebe and her mother mirror each other in this experience. However, despite undergoing similar emotional experiences, an emotional gulf remains between Phoebe and her mother.

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