The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux

by

Kate DiCamillo

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The Tale of Despereaux: Chapter 28 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Years pass. Mig spends her days cleaning, tending the sheep, and enduring clouts to the ear, and her evenings standing in the fields hoping to see the royal family again. The hope that she’ll see the princess one day sits in Mig’s heart, right next to the hope that Mig herself will one day be a princess. In a roundabout way, Mig gets her first wish when King Phillip outlaws soup. When the king’s soldier knocks on Uncle’s door one day and announces that soup is now against the law, Uncle is flabbergasted. The soldier suggests that since Uncle can no longer legally eat soup, he can eat cake. Uncle grouses that that would be wonderful if he could afford cake.
The queen’s death inadvertently causes one of Mig’s dreams to come true—again, the novel shows how a person’s perspective colors how they see the world. Notice, for instance, that this passage doesn’t mention that the queen’s death is why soup is illegal; that tragic occurrence is beside the point for Mig, if she’s even aware of it. The soldier drives home how ridiculous King Phillip’s law is when he tells Uncle to eat cake. Cake is costly, especially compared to soup. King Phillip, in trying to soothe his own grief, is just making life much harder and more expensive for his subjects.
Themes
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Losing his temper, Uncle shouts that the king will want his only possessions, his sheep and his girl, next. When the soldier confirms that Uncle indeed owns a girl, a fellow human, he informs Uncle that this is against the law. He asks for Uncle’s soup-making and soup-eating supplies, as well as Miggery Sow. Since the alternative is imprisonment in the dungeon, Uncle agrees.
While it’s arguably a good thing that Mig is being freed from Uncle, it’s not guaranteed, given how poorly Mig’s life has gone thus far, that things will actually get better for her. As Roscuro noted, people are capable of being extremely cruel to each other—Uncle certainly isn’t the only person in the novel who can hurt Mig. 
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Miggery Sow rides to the castle with the soldier, in the wagon filled with “soup-related items.” He asks if she has parents in a shout, and Mig shouts back that her mother is dead and her father is missing. The soldier says he’ll take her to the castle. When Mig confirms that the princess lives there, she says she’s happy to go. The soldier says it doesn’t matter to anyone but Mig whether she’s happy or not, so she might as well be happy. At the castle, she’ll be a paid servant rather than enslaved.
The soldier, perhaps, doesn’t realize how low Mig’s standards are—simply being in the princess’s vicinity, she believes, will improve her life a lot and will make her happy. He also expresses how alone and unloved Mig is when he suggests that Mig herself is the only one who will care about her happiness. Roscuro and Despereaux’s friends and family, on the other hand, have tried to teach them how to be happy, though their views on what makes a rat or a mouse happy have been too narrow to fit.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
By now, Mig is 12 years old. Her mother is dead, her father sold her, Uncle has hit her until she’s almost deaf, and more than anything she wants to be a princess with a crown and a white horse. The narrator asks if readers believe it’s awful to hope when there’s no reason to. Or do readers agree with the soldier, that it’s fine to be happy and hopeful, since it only matters to you?
The narrator suggests that Mig is essentially at rock bottom: it can’t get much worse, and she doesn’t really see how things could get incrementally better. Instead, her dreams are impossible—this is why the narrator suggests she has no reason to hope. But it’s left up to the reader to decide exactly how to feel about Mig, and exactly how to sympathize with her.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
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