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The narrator of Walk Two Moons. Sal is a high-spirited country girl deeply troubled by the loss of her mother. She gains strength from spending time in natural settings and from her Native American heritage, and many of her memories and experiences center on trees, rivers, wild berries, and mountains. Although she is rebellious and often skeptical of adults, she is open-minded and deeply compassionate. Sal tells her story with verve and humor, peppering her sentences with colorful comparisons and exaggerations.
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Sal's best friend in Euclid, Ohio. Phoebe, who lives next door to Margaret Cadaver, is a high-strung girl obsessed with propriety and order. Phoebe lives within a sort of manufactured drama, in which she transforms every small insignificant event into a menacing portent. Phoebe uses her propensity for melodrama, Sal theorizes, as a way to avoid dealing with bigger, more intractable, more universal fears, such as the fear of suffering, death, and hatred. Despite her stiff exterior, Phoebe desperately needs the love and security her family provides for her.
Read an in-depth analysis of Phoebe Winterbottom
Sal's father's parents. Gramps and Gram drive Sal across the country to visit her mother's final resting place in Lewiston, Idaho. Gramps and Gram, wacky and unpredictable, have been arrested several times for their innocent foibles, such as "borrowing" a tire from a police car. Gramps and Gram married and lived in an unwavering spirit of love and joyfulness, despite the fact that Sal's father is their only son, of four, who lived to adulthood. Though her grandparents' unpredictability worries her, Sal looks to them for support, love, and adventure.
A loving, gentle, almost too-perfect man. Sal's father takes Sal to Euclid, Ohio shortly after his wife's death because he is overwhelmed by grief for her at the farm. Sal's father, struggling with his own overwhelming sense of loss, tries to deal patiently and compassionately with Sal's anger, confusion, and rebelliousness. When they move to Euclid, he allows Sal to spend her time as she likes, often away from him. Ironically, his sweetness and gentleness often saddened Sal's mother, making her feel thoughtless and selfish in comparison.
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A spontaneous and joyful woman closely attuned to the everyday beauty of the outdoors, Sal's mother grew increasingly conflicted by her roles as a housewife and mother. Her unhappiness grew into full-fledged depression as a result of her miscarriage and hysterectomy, causing her to decided to try to reconnect with who she was before she married and became a mother by traveling to visit a cousin in Idaho. Sal adores the memory of her beautiful, gentle mother and throughout the novel struggles to come to terms with the events and forces that led up to her mother's departure.
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Phoebe's mother. Like Phoebe herself, Mrs. Winterbottom is obsessed with propriety. She works diligently as a housewife and mother, baking, sewing, cooking, cleaning, chatting pleasantly at the dinner table, but becomes increasingly saddened by her family's disregard of her. Convinced that her life has become insignificant and meaningless, she one day disappears in an attempt to reconcile herself to her past and her true self.
Phoebe's father. Like his wife, Mr. Winterbottom fills his role as husband and father exactingly. He diligently works at his nine-to-five job as a mapmaker and comes home, withdrawn, distant, and largely unspeaking, responding mechanically and complaisantly to his wife's questions. Mrs. Winterbottom's sudden departure challenges his understanding and expectations of her.
Phoebe's next-door neighbor and Sal's father's friend. Margaret helped Sal's father find a job selling farm machinery in order that he could live in Euclid, away from his farm. Although Sal feels deeply suspicious of Margaret's intentions toward her father, Margaret realizes that Sal's father sees her only as a friend and understands that their friendship is based on the fact that Margaret befriended Sal's mother during her last days alive. Margaret herself suffered a great tragedy when she lost her husband in a car accident.
Sal's schoolmate and romantic interest. Ben is a quirky, creative young man who persists despite confusion and shyness in expressing his affection for Sal throughout the novel. Ben lives with his cousin Mary Lou because his mother is not well.
Sal's English teacher and Margaret Cadaver's brother. Mr. Birkway is a passionate and energetic English teacher whose enthusiasm and friendliness inspire the interest of his students. Mr. Birkway makes a grave mistake when he, in all innocence, reads excerpts from his students' journals. He realizes his mistake only when his sister becomes implicated in the gossipy journal entries.
Mrs. Cadaver and Mr. Birkway's mother, Mrs. Partridge lives with her daughter next door to Phoebe. Mrs. Partridge, despite her blindness, can guess people's ages by feeling their faces. She is an eccentric but lovable old woman who plays a role in Phoebe's melodrama.
Phoebe's older sister. Prudence resembles Phoebe in her primness and her self-absorption. She thoughtlessly demands Mrs. Winterbottom's help in her life even while rejecting her advice and love.
Sal's classmate and Ben's cousin. Mary Lou is a loud, brash girl of whom Phoebe disapproves. Sal is secretly envious of her chaotic, loving household.
Mary Lou's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Finney are the loving and tolerant parents of a lively and unruly household. Mr. and Mrs. Finney are not ashamed of having a messy house or of acting unconventionally.
The mysterious young man who appears on Phoebe's doorstep and lurks threateningly around her neighborhood. Mike turns out to be the adoptive son of the local police chief, Sergeant Bickle.
The chief of police. Sergeant Bickle listens skeptically but patiently to Phoebe's worries about her mother's disappearance.
Ben's mother. Mrs. Finney appears only in the last few pages of the novel, and Creech tells us little about her. She lives in a mental institution and often appears to be unaware of her surroundings.
Sal's mother's parents. Sal's Grandparents Pickford are prim, proper, and easily shocked. Sal remembers them as having frowning, sour faces. Grandmother Pickford is at least part Native American, and for the one time in her life, defied convention by naming her daughter, Sal's mother, Chanhassan.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Walk Two Moons!