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Walk Two Moons | Chapters 5–6 | Summary



Chapter 5: A Damsel in Distress

Gram interrupts Sal's story by mentioning Gloria, a woman she and her husband knew when they were younger. Like Phoebe, Gloria "lived in the wildest, most pepped-up world." They pull over at a rest stop. Sal is impatient and hopes her grandparents won't cause any mischief. Sure enough Gramps "helps" a woman who is having car trouble by disassembling much of her engine. The woman calls a competent mechanic, and the Hiddles resume their drive.

Chapter 6: Blackberries

Sal continues her story. Eating dinner with Phoebe's family, she realizes they are a lot like her Pickford grandparents: picky, polite, and preoccupied with health. Each member of the family seems to be playing a role. Mrs. Winterbottom seems unhappy as "Mrs. Supreme Housewife," and her family seems uninterested when she announces her plan to get a job. Phoebe's 17-year-old sister Prudence is polite and reserved. Sal finds the family "peculiar." Later Phoebe tells Sal she thinks Mrs. Cadaver murdered her husband and buried him in the yard. Sal, predisposed to dislike Mrs. Cadaver, wants to believe this.

Eating Mrs. Winterbottom's blackberry pie prompts Sal to relive memories of her mother. One day when Sugar was pregnant, Sal's father, John, left flowers at the breakfast table for Sal and Sugar. When they found John in the fields working, Sugar began to cry, saying she would never be as good as John. The next morning Sugar put out dishes of fresh blackberries for Sal and John. Sugar and John shared a "tremendously romantic" embrace, and Sugar exclaimed, "See? I'm almost as good as your father!" Sal didn't understand why this made her feel "betrayed."


Sal's family life is very different from Phoebe's. Sal's family is close-knit, honest, openly expressive with their affection, and vulnerable with each other. In contrast the Winterbottoms relate to one another as if they were strangers. They all seem to be acting, and none of them seems to be happy. Mrs. Winterbottom seems particularly uncomfortable in and stifled by her role as the dutiful housewife and mother. Worse, her family is unappreciative of her efforts, and her attempts to please them are met with polite indifference.

Sal's family is loving, playful, and mischievous—sometimes too much so. Good intentions underlie Gramps's mechanical meddling at the rest stop, but he only makes the woman's car trouble worse. John's loving attention to his wife, in the form of the flower he leaves at the breakfast table, backfires by making Sugar feel inadequate. Sal is troubled by her mother's openly expressed feelings of inadequacy. Perhaps she senses that her mother's feelings of inadequacy will one day cause trouble for their happy family life.

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