Just as the objects embedded in Sal's stories often carry their own histories and narratives, the stops that Sal and her grandparents make along the way tell a history of the land across which they are traveling. Their stop in the Wisconsin Dells and in Pipestone reminds Sal of this country's ancient heritage. The dances, the stone, and the pipes carry history much as the blackberries do. These artifacts are not merely sentimental, but color the present with emotion and inform Sal's understanding of the present. Though these two stops are tourist attractions, glamorized and stylized for middle-class consumption, Sal and her grandparents cut through this veneer, refusing politically correct terminology by referring to themselves as Indians and throwing themselves into the heart of the rituals, dancing, smoking, and conversing with the people who work at the monuments. Sal's heritage provides another example of the way in which history in not only embedded in the present, but also constantly interacting with and redefining the present.
Sal draws closer to adulthood in both of the novel's parallel narratives. Her emerging sexuality embedded within Phoebe's story mirrors her increasing proximity to her confrontation with her mother, her past, and her loss of childhood in the novel's framing narrative. As they draw closer and closer to Lewiston, Sal finds herself increasingly attracted to Ben and both mark her increasing involvement in the adult world. While these two trends are in one sense parallel, taking place at different levels of the narrative, they also intersect and affect each other. Sal's emerging attraction to Ben leads her back to the painful narrative that she must confront. His comments about her flinching at his touch lead her to wonder if she had drawn away from her mother and if she and her father still hug enough. Sal stands at the cusp of two worlds, wanting physical affection both from her parents and from a boy her age.