Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Storytelling is the key to unlocking Walk Two Moons. You may think, well, duh, Shmoop! Of course storytelling is important in a book – it's a story! But in Walk Two Moons, the act of storytelling itself takes on its own importance.
The book itself contains a whole boat load of stories:
- Sal's own story
- Phoebe's story
- Sal's memories
- Gram and Gramps' stories
- Mr. Birkway's journal assignments (everyone in Sal's class has a story)
- Ben's pictures (they tell a story, right?)
- Margaret's story (she was with Sal's mom during her last days)
- The Native American stories Sal's mom used to tell her
The Greek myths that Mr. Birkway's class studies
Of course all of these stories are stories within a larger story (phew, that was a mouthful). Phoebe's story is embedded within Sal's story, as are her mother's story, Gram and Gramps's stories and… we could go on forever. So why exactly are there so many different kinds of interwoven stories in this book?
For one thing, stories help explain why things are the way things are – myths like that of Prometheus or of Pandora's Box, which explain where fire came from or why there is evil in the world. They can also help us face things we are afraid of, like death. It's telling, then, that Chanhassen's favorite stories "were those about people who came back, after death, as a bird or a river or a horse" (19.23).
But stories serve another purpose as well. As it turns out, it's really hard to actually walk two moons in another person's moccasins. We can't literally hop into another person's body and mind for two months. But when we hear their story, we can imagine that we are doing so. Stories are a way for us to gain understanding of and empathy for the people around us, and in turn understand ourselves a little better.