Salamanca has moved from Bybanks, Kentucky, to Euclid, Ohio because Bybanks has sad memories for her and her father, and her father cannot stand to stay there anymore.
Salamanca's mother had gone away, and would not be returning. Sal is not sure in her mind what has happened to her mother, and has not fully accepted the fact that she is gone forever, and to avoid the pain that the realization will bring her, she refuses to address the issue head on. Sal's father, however, is devastated when he finds out her mother is not going to be returning, and one day after hearing the news, he inexplicably flies to Lewiston, Idaho, then comes back and spends his days "chipping away at the fireplace hidden behind the plaster wall". Three weeks later, he puts the family farm in Bybanks up for sale and goes away again. When he returns, he announces to Sal that they will be moving to Euclid, Ohio, where a woman named Mrs. Cadaver has found him a job.
Sal does not know who Mrs. Cadaver is or how her father met her, but she refuses to listen to anything her father might tell her about the strange woman, preferring to ignore her existence. In addition, Sal is furious about having to leave Bybanks and throws "the most colossal temper tantrums". In the end, she has no choice but to accompany her father to Euclid, but her father compromises by renting out the farm instead of selling it outright, preserving the option that they might someday return. Sal's father explains the necessity of their move, saying,
"for now...we have to leave because your mother is haunting me day and night. She's in the fields, the air, the barn, the wall, the trees".
Although Sal does not understand this at the time, her father goes on to say that they are making the move "to learn about bravery and courage", but Sal does not feel the least bit brave of courageous (Chapter 18).