The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux


Kate DiCamillo

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The Tale of Despereaux: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

There is a beautiful, glittering chandelier in the middle of the banquet hall. It’s the perfect place from which to observe the party, so Roscuro climbs onto the table and leaps to the chandelier unnoticed. He swings back and forth, admiring the music, the smell of the good food, and the bright, beautiful light. But not even the loud party can hide Roscuro forever—the Princess Pea spots him and shouts that there’s a rat on the chandelier. Nobody hears her except for Roscuro, and he suddenly realizes how ugly the word “rat” is. The word is an insult; it’s totally dark. Roscuro suddenly realizes he doesn’t like being a rat. He doesn’t want to be one anymore. This realization is so huge that Roscuro lets go of the chandelier and falls into the queen’s soup bowl.
Roscuro’s fall from the chandelier is highly symbolic. He falls from a literal light source—and a glittery, beautiful one at that. More than just being a physical fall, then, the novel implies that Roscuro is also falling away from the light (and away from beauty and goodness) and toward darkness, since he falls as he realizes how terrible the word “rat” is. Though this foreshadows Roscuro’s turn to evil, it’s also significant that Roscuro doesn’t want to be a rat. He recognizes he doesn’t fit in up in the castle’s main floors—but he also doesn’t fit in in the dungeon.
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