The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux

by

Kate DiCamillo

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Tale of Despereaux can help.

The Tale of Despereaux: Chapter 2  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Despereaux Tilling survives, but everyone in the mouse community thinks he’s odd. His aunt Florence tells Despereaux one day that he’s so small it’s “ridiculous,” and his uncle Alfred adds that Despereaux’s ears are as big as donkeys’ ears. Alfred then whispers that Despereaux was born with his eyes open, which Aunt Florence says is impossible. Despereaux doesn’t defend himself, as everything his aunt and uncle say is true. He’s tiny, with big ears. He was born with his eyes open, and he’s sickly and a fainter. Worst of all, though, he’s not interested in normal mouse things, like food. Instead, while his siblings eat, he stands and listens to a sound that’s sweet like honey. He dutifully searches for crumbs when Antoinette asks, but he’s not sniffing: he’s listening to something that none of the other mice can hear.
The narrator continues to establish how Despereaux doesn’t fit in with other mice—and, in fact, is looked down upon by his family members. Some of this has to do with his size and his poor health, things that he notably can’t change. But he also seems to have different concerns than most other mice, such as whatever this sweet sound is. He is, perhaps, more enlightened than his family members—rather than focusing just on getting his basic needs met (by searching for crumbs), he’s more concerned with pleasure, beauty, and thinking critically about the world around him.
Themes
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Principles, Courage, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Conformity Theme Icon