The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux

by

Kate DiCamillo

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The Tale of Despereaux: Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The entire mouse community gathers behind the castle ballroom. The Mouse Council sits on top of three stacked bricks, and they all wait for Despereaux. Finally, Furlough shouts that he has Despereaux. He pushes through the crowd, and a few mice reach out to touch Despereaux, whispering about the tiny mouse’s crimes. At the front of the room, Furlough announces Despereaux to the council and then snaps at Despereaux to let go of his tail. Despereaux looks up at the Mouse Council and meets Lester’s gaze for a moment, but Lester looks away.
Finally, Despereaux seems a bit more aware of what’s going on. That Furlough brings him to the Mouse Council, and that Lester is sitting with the council, shows Despereaux that he’s totally alone—he has no one to advocate for him. Meeting Lester’s eyes, though, is a bit confrontational. It forces Lester to think about what he’s doing and about what the consequences might be for turning his son in.
Themes
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Principles, Courage, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Someone in the crowd shouts that Despereaux should be sent immediately to the dungeon, but the Most Very Honored Head Mouse calls for order. He asks Despereaux to look at him and explains that they’ll first give Despereaux a chance to defend himself. He asks if Despereaux sat at King Phillip’s feet. Despereaux admits he did—but he was listening to the king playing and singing. The Head Mouse shakes his head and says Despereaux’s reasoning doesn’t matter. He then asks if Despereaux let the princess touch him. Despereaux says the princess’s name is Pea—he did let her touch him, and it felt good. In the crowd, Antoinette calls for God and says it was no big deal, but Aunt Florence shouts that mice don’t do that.
The Head Mouse is only concerned with facts that are black and white, like did Despereaux sit in front of the king and allow the princess to touch him. He leaves no room for nuance and refuses to let this be anything more than a yes or no question. Despereaux seeks to add some nuance by implying that being able to listen to music is worth putting oneself in danger, and by more generally explaining that it was enjoyable for him to be in people’s company. He’s standing up for what he believes is right—and that doesn’t line up with what most mice believe, putting him in danger.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Principles, Courage, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Conformity Theme Icon
The Head Mouse calls for silence and then asks if Despereaux broke the rules of mouse conduct. Despereaux says he did—but he did it for love and for music, which are good reasons. The Head Mouse shouts that this is not about love; it’s about Despereaux not acting like the mouse he is. Because Despereaux doesn’t deny the charges, he’ll be punished by going to the dungeon and to the rats. Despereaux’s heart sinks: there’s no light in the dungeons, let alone stories or the Princess Pea.
The Head Mouse insists essentially that reasons don’t matter: this is just a question of what Despereaux did or did not do. Note, though, that as Despereaux considers the dungeons, he says nothing about being sad about leaving his family. His loyalty is to beauty, light, music, and the princess, not mouse culture as a whole. And noting that the dungeon is entirely dark situates it as the opposite of the castle’s upper floors—it’s someplace evil.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Conformity Theme Icon
Related Quotes
The Most Very Honored Head Mouse says that Despereaux will have the option to renounce and repent, or say he’s sorry for his actions. Antoinette shouts for Despereaux to repent, but Despereaux refuses. He announces that he loves the princess and isn’t sorry. The mice bellow with rage and chant, “to the dungeon.” The Head Mouse says that in this case, Despereaux will die. He calls for the threadmaster just as Despereaux faints.
Since Despereaux isn’t sorry, repenting isn’t going to do anything for him. Repenting would mostly make other mice, particularly Antoinette, feel better—it would show them that their disciplinary methods work and turn Despereaux into a better example of what happens to mice who step out of line.
Themes
Conformity Theme Icon
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