In Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech , Phoebe's story relates to Sal's in that Phoebe's mother leaves, just as Sal’s mother leaves. There is an important difference, however. Phoebe’s mother finally returns. Nevertheless, during the period when she is gone and Phoebe does not know where she is, they...
are sympathetic to one another about how they feel regarding their absent mothers.
Sal recognizes the similarity in their stories. When she thinks about Phoebe and Mrs. Winterbottom, it reminds her of her own story. She says,
My father started chipping away at a plaster wall in the living room of our house in Bybanks, shortly after my mother left us one April morning ... Each night, as he waited to hear from my mother, he chipped away at that wall.
On the night that we got the bad news—that she was not returning—he pounded and pounded on that wall with a chisel and a hammer. ...
The reason that Phoebe's story reminds me of that plaster wail and the hidden fireplace is that beneath Phoebe's story was another one. It was about me and my own mother.
Later she says, “When my mother left for Lewiston, Idaho, that April my first thoughts were, 'How could she do that? How could she leave me, when I am part of her? How could she function without part of her?'”
After Phoebe’s mother leaves, Phoebe tells Sal, “My mother has disappeared. Sal, don't tell anyone. Don't tell a soul." Although she does not articulate it, it seems likely that Phoebe is also wondering how her mother could leave her. Moreover, Phoebe is worried, and she is also somewhat uncomfortable having other people know. In a sense, she is embarrassed. This makes her somewhat of an outsider among her classmates. Similarly, Sal is a bit of an outsider too. When her mother leaves them, her father cannot bear to remain in their home and they move, so Sal is a stranger in a new town and an outsider in a very real sense.
There are other similarities in their stories. In both circumstances, the catalyst that causes the mother to leave is related to another child. In Sal’s case, her mother miscarries and goes into a deep depression. With Mrs. Winterbottom, it is the sudden appearance of a son she gave up for adoption years before that sends her into an emotional state and causes her to leave her family temporarily.
Phoebe’s mother runs away in response to the “lunatic” who comes to Phoebe’s house one day asking for Mrs. Winterbottom. Neither girl realizes at the time that this is what spurred Mrs. Winterbottom’s departure, but it becomes clear as the story unfolds.