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Quotes

Quote #10

I said, "It isn't normal to die. It isn't normal. It's terrible." (29.12)

Sal is really upset by Longfellow's poem "The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls." All her short sentences make her seem angry. Why do you think the poem upsets her so much?

Quote #11

The way Mr. Birkway read this poem, you could hear the tide rising and falling, rising and falling. In the poem, a traveler is hurrying toward a town, and it is getting darker and darker, and the sea calls to the traveler. Then the waves "with their soft, white hands" wash out the traveler's footprints. (29.3)

The word "hurrying" here makes us think of all the times in Sal's story when she feels the need to rush. Throughout her road trip to Idaho, "the air screamed, hurry, hurry, hurry" (12.17). Just as the traveler in this poem is hurrying toward a town, Sal is hurrying toward her mom in Idaho. However, there are certain times when Sal doesn't feel the need to hurry anymore. What happens to make her feel this way?

Quote #12

I prayed all night long to the elm tree outside. I prayed that we would not get in an accident, that we could get to Lewiston, Idaho, in time for my mother's birthday, and that we would bring her home. Later I would realize that I had prayed for the wrong things. (32.5)

This is one of the only times in which we get a very clear picture of Sal's relationship to nature, and, more specifically, to trees. She actually prays to the elm tree, feeling that it has the power to help her. She believes in trees. She has a spiritual connection to them. Later, when Sal sees her mother's grave for the first time, she hears a bird singing a birdsong in the willow tree nearby. She kisses the bark of the willow tree, as though saying goodbye to her mom. Trees are mighty powerful beings in Sal's eyes.

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