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 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On Mig’s seventh birthday, she announces to Uncle that it’s her birthday. He threatens to hit her, does so, and sends Mig to the field with the sheep. A few hours later, Mig sees something glittering on the horizon. It’s not the sun, since the sun is setting behind Mig. Soon, the glittering thing gets close enough, and Mig sees that it’s King Phillip, Queen Rosemary, and little Princess Pea. They’re surrounded by knights and horses, all in shining armor, and each royal wears a gold crown. The Princess Pea is on a white horse that picks its legs up high. She sees Mig and waves hello to her. Mig, though, doesn’t wave. She just stares.
Notably, Mig’s experience of seeing the royal family mirrors both Despereaux’s and Roscuro’s first experiences seeing the light—all three of these characters, this suggests, are similarly drawn to light, goodness, and beauty. In particular, that Mig notices the knights in their shining armor aligns her with Despereaux; like the mouse, she admires these men who stand up for what’s good and right. And in theory, they protect maidens—like Mig.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Principles, Courage, and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Princess Pea asks King Phillip why Mig isn’t waving—Pea is a princess, and Mig should wave back. Mig, though, continues to stare. Something stirs inside her, and for the first time in a long time, Mig feels hope. Like love, hope is “a ridiculous, wonderful, powerful thing.” The feeling in Mig’s chest, which she can’t name, feels like the opposite of a clout in the ear. Finally, Mig waves to the princess and shouts that today is her birthday. But the royal family is too far away to hear.
Mig isn’t described as being especially beautiful, and she’s never experienced kindness. So, the Pea’s willingness to wave at Mig represents a departure from Mig’s usual dark, sad life—and it causes Mig to believe that, perhaps, things could get better. Mig, of course, has no idea that the Pea is a bit annoyed with her for not waving back, so she idealizes the princess rather than seeing her as a complex person.  
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Related Quotes