How does the setting in the novel Walk Two Moons conflict with the theme of the story?

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The theme of Walk Two Moons could be described as “home and family.” Both Sal and Phoebe, whose stories become intertwined, have questions about their mothers, both of whom have left home. What makes a home? What makes a family? If one parent leaves, does this mean that the home/family is “broken”  beyond repair?

Sal journeys to try to bring her mother back home and reunite the family. Her mother had a miscarriage, the loss of a girl, a sister for Sal. Phoebe tries to bring her mother back and ends up gaining a brother that she never knew about. In both cases, their families are different from what they knew them to be.

The settings, however, do not take place in Sal’s “home” of Bybanks, Kentucky. She is a “stranger in a strange land” and journeys to even more strange lands. Her father moves them to Euclid, Ohio, a place that Sal does not consider home. She goes on a trip with her grandparents across the country to bring her mother back home (she cannot do this as her mother has died, which Sal knew all along). She, along with Phoebe, learns that they must redefine their definitions of family and home, since both have changed. While Phoebe’s mother returns home, the family has expanded. Sal returns home to Kentucky, but her family has changed with two losses, her mother and her grandmother.

The settings, therefore, place the characters is unfamiliar places  (a seeming conflict) in order that they may learn the real meanings of “home” and “family.”

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