The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux

by

Kate DiCamillo

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The Tale of Despereaux: Chapter 31 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Uncle used to hit Mig, he always aimed for the ears—but sometimes he missed and hit her nose. This happened enough that Mig now can’t smell well, so she totally misses that the dungeon smells like evil, despair, and hopelessness. She’s happy as she continues down the stairs, telling herself that she’d be glittery and full of light if she was a princess. She even sings a song about becoming the Princess Pea one day. Mig isn’t a great singer, but Chiaroscuro, in his red cape and spoon crown, hears exactly what he wants to hear in her song. He follows her down.
In a way, Mig does exactly what Despereaux does as she makes her way down the stairs. Her hope of becoming a princess is its own sort of story, and it helps her stay light, bright, hopeful, and unafraid. But Chiaroscuro instantly plans to corrupt this; readers can assume that Roscuro isn’t interested in the innocent hope Mig is nursing, as he’s focused on revenge and on evil.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
At the bottom of the stairs, Mig bellows into the dungeon that the jailer’s food is ready. The dungeon doesn’t respond; in fact, it’s “quiet in an ominous way.” Water drips, someone moans, and one can hear the rats moving through the blood and muck. The reader would certainly hear all this if they were standing where Mig is, as would the narrator. But Mig hears nothing, so she isn’t afraid. Rather, she lifts her candle higher and it illuminates the tower of kettles, spoons, and bowls. She says aloud that she never imagined there were so many spoons in the world. A booming voice in the dark says there’s more to the world than anyone can imagine—and next to Mig, Roscuro says Gregory is right.
In this passage, the dungeon is described almost as an animate creature—it has the choice to respond, it seems, but it doesn’t. The narrator insists that someone with a normal ability to hear and smell would pick up on this instantly, but Mig doesn’t. As she notices the tower of soup supplies, what’s shocking for her is just how big the world is. This reflects how sheltered and poor she is. Gregory, presumably the voice in the dark, insists that the true extent of what’s in the world is unknowable to pretty much everyone—whether they can hear perfectly or not.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon