In this coming-of-age novel, traveling is a symbol for growing up. Mary
breaks out of her “frozen” state by moving to Montana to live in a mobile home. Penelope’s
idea of adulthood and freedom involves a plan “to swim in every ocean … to climb Mount Everest … to go on an African safari … to ride a dogsled in Antarctica.” Gordy
uses the language of travel to talk about life, saying books and comics can help to “navigate the river of the world.” And a cartoon inserted after Mr. P
to leave the reservation shows Junior standing by a road sign, beginning a journey from “Home” toward “Hope” and “???” Just as growing up means leaving the safe, known, comforting world of childhood, traveling means leaving home behind to explore unknown places. Thus, when Rowdy
wishes Junior happiness in his nomadic travels, he means it literally, but also symbolically; Junior has passed out of the childhood they shared, and into a life of his own.