Walk Two Moons Summary: Chapters 29-32

Instructor: Dori Starnes

Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.

Sal and her grandparents make it to Yellowstone, and in the story Sal tells, things fall apart for Phoebe and at school. This lesson will focus on the summary of Chapters 29 through 32 of ''Walk Two Moons''.


Salamanca Tree Hiddle, who goes by Sal, is traveling with her grandparents from her home in Euclid, Ohio to Lewiston, Idaho. They are heading to Lewiston to see Sal's Momma, who left Sal and her father a little over a year ago. As they travel, Sal switches between a desire to hurry up and reach Idaho and absolute terror at what they will find there. To keep her mind off the painful memories of her Momma's desertion, Sal tells her grandparents the story of her friend Phoebe Winterbottom, Phoebe's mother who has also left her family, and 'the lunatic'.

Sal has a lot going on: she's struggling to find her place in Ohio, trying to console her friend, and navigating her first romantic relationship with Ben Finney. But as Sal tells the story to her grandparents, her own story is being revealed, as well as the tragedy that drove her mother away from Sal and her father.

Chapter 29: The Tide Rises

As they drive into Wyoming, Sal continues to tell the story of Phoebe's missing mother. She recalls a day in English class, which Sal and Phoebe share with Ben and a lot of their friends, when Mr. Birkway, their eccentric teacher, reads the class a poem by William Wadsworth Longfellow called 'The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls' and asks for their thoughts on it. Sal says the poem is about death, and says the man drowned. Phoebe agrees, but thinks his death was a terrible one, even a murder. Ben says he thinks the man died normally.

Sal shoots back that death is never normal, and Ben replies that sometimes, even horrific things can be normal. The poem leaves the girls feeling upset all day.

After school, they go to the police station and meet Sergeant Bickle. They report Mrs. Winterbottom's disappearance, and the sergeant calls Phoebe's dad to come get them. When they reach home, the distraught Phoebe tells her father that her mother must be the victim of a crime. Mrs. Winterbottom would never leave her, Phoebe insists, because she loves her too much. Mr. Winterbottom, whom Phoebe has assured Sal never cries, bursts into tears.

Chapter 30: Breaking In

Next door, Margaret Cadaver, Phoebe's neighbor whom Phoebe believes is a murderer (and the woman who has been spending a lot of time with Sal's dad, to Sal's disgust), leaves for her job as a nurse on the late shift. Sal and Phoebe decide to go into her house and look around.

The girls go in, but the house is not empty. They stumble into the blind Mrs. Partridge, Margaret Cadaver's mother. Mrs. Partridge tells Phoebe that she's met Phoebe's brother. But Phoebe doesn't have a brother.

On their way home, Sal tells Phoebe that her mother may not come back. Phoebe tells Sal to shut up, and Sal leaves. That night in bed, Sal cannot stop thinking about the poem and Mr. Winterbottom's tears. In the morning, she calls up her friend and says she will help her find her mother.

Chapter 31: The Photograph

That morning, Phoebe finds another note at her front door. This one says 'We never know the worth of water until the well runs dry'. Sal and Ben Finney talk at Sal's locker. She tries to kiss him, but misses and kisses the locker instead. Like every other kiss they've tried so far, it's a disaster. Embarrassed, Sal heads to class.

Mr. Birkway is reading bits from everyone's journals. The students, who wrote very personal things, are horrified. Mr. Birkway changes the names as he reads, but everyone knows who wrote each one. Everyone in the class becomes upset with everyone else.

When the journals are read aloud, trouble begins
When the journals are read aloud, trouble begins.

Sal and Phoebe return to the police station, where they talk to Sergeant Bickle. He is not helpful, and Phoebe jumps up and storms out. As she is about to follow her friend, Sal notices a picture of Sergeant Bickle's family on his desk. His son is the 'lunatic' that Sal and Phoebe saw at the Winterbottoms' house, asking for Phoebe's mother.

Chapter 32: Chicken and the Blackberry Kiss

The narrative returns to the present, where Gramps, Gram, and Sal make it to Yellowstone National Park. It's dark out, so they get a motel room and wait to see Old Faithful in the morning. Gram is too excited to sleep, so she asks Sal to tell her more of the story about Phoebe.

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