Walk Two Moons Summary: Chapters 9-12

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 Minnesota, and we learn more of about the other people in Sal's life, including Ben Finney. This lesson will focus on the summary of chapters 9 through 12 of 'Walk Two Moons.'


Salamanca Tree Hiddle (also known as Sal) continues to travel with her grandparents to Lewiston, Idaho, to see her Momma. As they go, Sal tells the story of her friend Phoebe Winterbottom, Phoebe's family, and the lunatic who showed up at their door. But in Phoebe's story, Sal uncovers memories of her own mother, who left Sal and her father and went to Idaho. Though they seem to be stopping a lot on their journey--to help a woman fix her car, to dangle their feet in Lake Michigan, lost in Chicago--Sal knows they are drawing closer to Idaho, and she's afraid of what she will find there.

Chapter 9: The Message

In chapter 9, Sal continues to tell Phoebe's story. Phoebe and Sal make it to Mary Lou Finney's house. Her cousin Ben Finney, who is in Sal's class at school, is staying with the family, along with the five Finney kids. The house is loud, and Phoebe dislikes the chaos. Ben draws a picture of a salamander with long hair for Sal. He obviously likes her.

When Phoebe and Mary Lou walk out of the room, Sal is about to follow them when Ben kisses her on the collarbone. She wonders if he was aiming for her lips. He then takes the picture of the salamander and hurries out of the room, leaving Sal very confused.

When Sal and Phoebe tell Mrs. Winterbottom about the young man who visited the house (the one Phoebe is convinced is a lunatic), Mrs. Winterbottom asks Phoebe not to tell her father, which confuses Phoebe.

On the porch, Sal and Phoebe find an envelope. Inside is a small piece of paper that says 'Don't judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.' Phoebe and her parents try to figure out who the message is for and where it came from. Mrs. Winterbottom is very upset about this, and Sal believes Mrs. Winterbottom thinks the message is from her visitor from earlier.

Chapter 10: Huzza, Huzza

As Sal finishes telling this bit of the story, she and Gramps and Gram arrive in Madison, Wisconsin. They manage to find a parking place, but Gramps has no money for the meter, so he leaves a note telling the city he is a World War II vet with shrapnel in his leg. But when Sal asks him if that is true, he doesn't answer, so she concludes it is 'imaginary.'

Sal is thrilled with how lively Madison is. They eat and stroll around, but Sal feels the need to get going again. Gram asks Sal if she wants to send anyone a postcard, but Sal is reminded of the postcards her mother sent. Sal got the last postcard two days after she found out Momma wasn't coming back.

They drive for a few more hours and end up in the Wisconsin Dells. There, Gramps is sleepy so they decide to stop so he can take a nap. While he does, Sal and Gram go to a fort and watch some Native Americans dancing and drumming. Since Sal is part Native American, she enjoys seeing this. Sal falls asleep watching them and then wakes up alone.

For a second, she's terrified her grandparents left without her. But then she sees her Gram dancing with the Native Americans, shouting 'Huzza, huzza'.

A Native American Circle Dance
A Native American Circle Dance

Chapter 11: Flinching

The next day, Sal and her grandparents reach Minnesota. Sal thinks the land is beautiful and the air smells like pine trees. She continues her story about Phoebe.

On Saturday, Phoebe and Sal head back to Mary Lou Finney's house. On the way, they find another message. This one says 'Everyone has his own agenda.' The three girls try to figure out what these messages mean. Sal tells them she's seen the first message before.

Ben draws them a picture of two moccasins with moons in them. Sal realizes, though she doesn't tell Ben, that his drawing is exactly what she thinks of when she hears the phrase. Then Sal, Phoebe, Mary Lou, and Ben walk to the drugstore with Tommy and Dougie, two of Mary Lou's brothers. Ben walks behind Sal and catches her when she trips.

Even though she isn't going to fall, Ben keeps holding her waist. She finally tells him to let go, and he does. At the drugstore, Phoebe and Sal see the same boy who had visited the Winterbottoms' house (the 'lunatic'), but by the time they tell the others, he's gone.

Ben tells Phoebe and Sal that he will walk with them back to Phoebe's house and keep them safe. As they walk, he asks Sal why she flinches whenever someone touches her. She denies it, and Ben touches her arm. She stops herself from flinching.

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