Study Guide

Walk Two Moons Death and Mortality

By Sharon Creech

Death and Mortality

I prayed that we would not be in an accident (I was terrified of cars and buses) and that we would get there by my mother's birthday – seven days away – and that we would bring her home. (2.10)

For a thirteen year-old girl, Sal seems to have a lot of fears, especially fears about dying. She is scared of cars and traveling, just as her mom was scared of cars and traveling. But are their reasons for that fear the same?

I, Salamanca Tree Hiddle, was afraid of lots of things. For example, I was terrified of car accidents, death, cancer, brain tumors, nuclear war, pregnant women, loud noises, strict teachers, elevators, and scads of other things. (3.19)

Is there a common link between all of these fears that Sal has? Why does she fear these things in particular, do you think? Notice that the first things on her list all have to do with death.

"Her name is Mrs. Cadaver, right? Have you ever wondered what happened to Mr. Cadaver?"

"I never really thought about – "

"Well, I think I know," Phoebe said, "and it is awful, purely awful." (4.57)

It's amazing how nothing more than a woman's name can totally convince Phoebe that the woman is an axe-murderer. We later learn that Mrs. Cadaver is definitely not an axe-murder, but that she has had to cope with the death of her husband. How does this insight into Mrs. Cadaver change how you feel about her? Did you think she might have been an axe-murderer at first?

I had not said anything about what had happened the day before – about being scared down to my very bones when I thought they had left me. I don't know what came over me. Ever since my mother left us that April day, I suspected everyone was going to leave, one by one. (11.3)

When Sal talks about people leaving her here, we get the feeling that she's not simply referring to people taking off for the grocery store or to go on a long trip. We get the sense that Sal is talking about a more permanent kind of leaving – death.

I used to think about that raft a lot, and I actually believed that one day we might build a raft and float away down a river together. But when she went to Lewiston, Idaho, she went alone. (11.53)

Chanhassen Hiddle leaves Sal twice. The first time she leaves her, she promises to come back and tells her she's just going on a road trip. But the second time Chanhassen Hiddle leaves Sal, she leaves forever.

Gramps always ends this story by saying, "That bed has been around my whole life, and I'm going to die in that bed, and then that bed will know everything there is to know about me." (12.42)

That bed certainly has been around a very long time. It has basically witnessed Gram and Gramps' entire marriage. There's something very special about it, almost as though it has come to represent Gram and Gramps' life together. Will it continue to hold this meaning after Grams has passed away?

They had three other sons at one time, but one son died when a tractor flipped over on him, one was killed when he skied into a tree, and the third died when he jumped into the freezing cold Ohio River to save his best friend (the best friend survived but my uncle did not). (18.2)

How can Gram and Gramps be so full of life, so happy when they have endured so much pain and sadness? How do you think they see death?

Later, when I was doing my homework, I found myself doodling in the margin of my English book. I had drawn a figure of a woman with wild hair and evil eyes and a rope around her neck. I drew a tree, fastened the rope to it, and hung her. (19.19)

Sal is a little bit morbid at times. Here she's drawing Mrs. Cadaver. Later on, in Chapter 26, she draws a similar image of Phoebe with a rope around her neck. What do these little doodles tell us about Sal?

I took a good long look at Phoebe's mother. She did not seem capable of phoning the police or Mr. Winterbottom. I think she was more scared than we were. She went around locking all the doors. (19.43)

What is Mrs. Winterbottom so scared of at this moment? What do you think is her greatest fear? Is she afraid of being killed by a lunatic?

My mother, my father, and I all seemed fine and happy at our house until the baby died. Could you actually say that the baby died, since it had never breathed? Did its birth and death occur at the same moment? Could you die <em>before</em> you were born? (27.36)

These are hefty thoughts for someone to have at such a young age. How does Sal's baby sibling's death affect her? How are things different after this baby dies?

I went barreling on as if it was my poem and I was an expert. "The waves, with their 'soft, white hands' grab the traveler. They drown him. They kill him. He's gone." (29.7)

Here, we get Sal's interpretation of the poem "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Do you agree with her reading of it? Take a look at the poem and tell us what you think.

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