How other Characters Change and Develop in Walk Two Moons
Phoebe’s family, the Winterbottoms are forced to reconsider their behavior, as a result of the events in the novel. When we first meet them, they present a stiflingly “respectable" front, addressing each other in a stiltedly formal manner. Sal perceives that all is not well, that Mrs. Winterbottom is frustrated in her role as perfect housewife and mother, particularly as the rest of the family take her for granted and pay little attention to her. This lack of communication and excessive concern for outward appearances is revealed to have allowed a painful secret to fester. Mrs. Winterbottom never felt able to tell her husband that, before they met, she had borne a son and had him adopted. When her adopted son turns up at her house, Mrs. Winterbottom feels the need to leave the family to deal with her past and with the gap between appearances and who she really is. When Mr. Winterbottom discovers the truth, what he finds hard to accept, is not that Mrs. Winterbottom had the child, but that she felt unable to tell him. As a family, the Winterbottoms learn the importance of open communication and also of appreciating Mrs. Winterbottom as a human being and not merely as fulfilling a tedious but essential role as housewife and mother.
Mr Birkway, the enthusiastic English teacher, reads out the private journals of his English class, oblivious to the upset and conflict it causes, when classmates hear what they have said about each other. Mr. Birkway simply appreciates the journals at an abstract, literary level, finding something worthwhile and insightful in everything he reads. It is only when he is forced to read aloud Phoebe’s suspicions that his sister, Margaret Cadaver, murdered her husband that he realizes how insensitive he has been. To his credit, Mr. Birkway quickly understands his fault and apologizes to Phoebe and the class for making their private thoughts public, rather than blaming Phoebe for what she wrote about his sister. Like Sal, Mr. Birkway has had to learn to walk in someone else’s moccasins.
Reference: Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech, Harper Collins, 1994
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