Walk Two Moons, written by Sharon Creech, is a story focusing on Salamanca Tree Hiddle, a thirteen-year-old from Bybanks, Kentucky. Along with her grandparents she is traveling across the United States to Idaho. Throughout her travels, she narrates the story of Phoebe Winterbottom, the lunatic, and her disappearing mother. She also tells another story that is more serious about herself and her own mother. The variety of characters in Walk Two Moons lend to the main character, who is also the storyteller, through thorough analysis.
Salamanca Tree Hiddle
Also referred to as Sal, is the main character and the narrator. She is very distraught from losing her mother, but is still a very high-spirited country girl. Her Native American heritage, being out in nature, and her experiences and memories that revolve around rivers, trees, mountains, and wild berries allow her to gain strength. She is typically skeptical of adults and is rather rebellious, but at the same time this character is also deeply compassionate and very open-minded. She tells her story with humor and enthusiasm, coloring her sentences with vivid exaggerations and comparisons.
Phoebe lives in Euclid, Ohio and is Sal’s best friend. She also lives right next door to the high-strung Margaret Cadaver, who is obsessed with order and propriety. Phoebe lives within created drama, in which she takes insignificant and small events and turns them into menacing phenomenons. Sal theorizes that Phoebe uses her proneness to melodrama as a tool to avoid coping with her larger and more universal fears, such as her fear of death, hatred, and suffering. Though she presents herself tough on the outside, she desperately needs all of the security and love her family gives her.
Sal’s grandparents on her fathers side drive Sal across the United States to Lewiston, Idaho, her mother’s final resting place. Gram and Gramps are unpredictable and a bit wacky, and they have been arrested a number of times for a variety of things, such as stealing the tire from a police car, though they referred to this incident as “borrowing”. Sal’s father is their only child, out of four, that lived to be an adult, but Gram and Gramps lived their married lives with unwavering joyfulness and love. Sal looks to Gram and Gramps for love, adventure, and support, but she cannot help but be worried about their unpredictability.
Sal’s mother was described as a joyful and spontaneous woman who was very in touch with the beauty of nature and the outdoors. She became progressively conflicted by her roles as both mother and housewife. Due to a miscarriage and a hysterectomy, her unhappiness became serious depression. Because of this, she decided to go to Idaho to visit a cousin so that she could reconnect with her old self, the old self before becoming a mother and a wife. Throughout this novel, Sal adores and relishes in the memory of her gentle and beautiful mother, but she struggles with accepting the forces and events that resulted in her mother leaving.
Mrs. Winterbottom is Phoebe’s mother and is very much like Phoebe in that she is also obsessed with propriety. She works hard and consistently as a mother and a housewife, sewing, cleaning, baking, cooking, and pleasantly speaking at the dinner table. However, she becomes progressively upset by how her family disregard her. She finally becomes convinced that her life has turned into something meaningless and insignificant so she disappears one day to try and reconcile with who she truly is and her past.
Mr. Winterbottom is Phoebe’s father, and like her mother, he perfectly fills his role and father and husband. He eagerly works his nine-to-five mapmaker job and then he comes home distant, barely speaking, withdrawn, and responding in a mechanical way to the questions his wife asks him. When his wife suddenly leaves, he begins to challenge his expectations and understanding of her.
Margaret lives next-door to Phoebe and she is also a friend of Sal’s father. She helped Sal’s father find a job so that he could live in Euclid, Ohio. Sal is quite suspicious of Margaret and her intentions towards her father. However, Margaret comes to realize that Sal sees her only as a friend and nothing more and understands that her friendship with Sal’s father is based on Margaret becoming a friend to Sal’s mother during her last days of life. Margaret lost her husband due to a car accident, so she does understand great tragedy.
Ben is Sal’s romantic interest and also her classmate. He is creative and quirky and he keeps going though he has shyness and confusion about showing his affection for Sal throughout this story. His mother is not well, so he lives with Mary Lou, his cousin.
This Walk Two Moons character is Margaret Cadaver’s brother and Sal’s English teacher. He inspires his students’ interest with his friendliness, energy, enthusiasm, and passion. He makes a big mistake when he starts to read his students’ journals, but only realizes this is a mistake when gossipy journal entries implicate his sister.
This character is the mother of both Mr. Birkway and Margaret Cadaver, and she lives with Margaret. By using people’s faces, she can read their feelings and know their ages, and she does this because she is blind. She is old, lovable, and eccentric, and she also plays a role on the melodrama Phoebe thrives on.
Prudence is Phoebe’s older sister and she takes after Phoebe with her self-absorption and primness. She rejects the love and advice of Mrs. Winterbottom, while at the same time thoughtlessly demanding her to help her with things in her life.
Mary Lou Finney
Mary Lou is Ben’s cousin and she is loud and brash. Phoebe does not approve of her, but Sal is secretly jealous of Mary Lou’s loving and chaotic household.
Also known as Mike, the lunatic appears on Phoebe’s doorstep. This mysterious young man, lurks around Phoebe’s neighborhood in a threatening manner. He is also Sergeant Bickle, the local police chiefs’ adoptive son.
He is the chief of police. He also listens patiently, yet skeptically, to Phoebe when she talks to him about the disappearance of her mother.
This Walk Two Moons character is Ben’s mother. She is only discussed at the very end of the novel, and the author does not tell much about her. All that is presented is that she is not aware of her surroundings and she is in a mental institution.
These are the parents of Sal’s mother. They are proper, prim, and very easily shocked, making them the exact opposite of her other grandparents. Sal remembers them often having sour and frowning faces. Grandmother Pickford has at least some Native American in her and for just one time throughout her life, she defied what was conventional by naming Sal’s mother, Chanhassan.