The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux

by

Kate DiCamillo

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The Tale of Despereaux: Chapter 34 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Gregory wrapped Despereaux in his napkin and placed him on Mig’s tray, he whispered, “back to the light.” Now, Mig enters the kitchen with the tray and loudly announces to Cook that she’s back from the dungeons. Cook shouts that Mig must clear the tray, and to show her how, she reaches over herself and picks up the napkin. Despereaux tumbles out and into a cup of oil. Cook tells Mig to kill the mouse, so Mig fishes Despereaux out of the oil by his tail and then goes to find a kitchen knife. But Despereaux’s tail is slippery, and Mig drops him. She observes that this probably killed him, but Cook says her policy about mice is to kill them, even if they’re already dead—the only good mouse is a dead one.
Leaving the dungeon doesn’t just represent escaping certain death for Despereaux. It also represents returning to the part of the castle where goodness and beauty are the dominant forces. However, Despereaux discovers immediately that this isn’t necessarily true everywhere in the castle’s main floors—there are still people like Cook who want to do away with mice like him. This impresses upon Despereaux that even though he doesn’t have to confront the rats upstairs, danger lurks everywhere.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Principles, Courage, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Despereaux picks his head up and admires how beautiful the light streaming in through the windows is. Mig puts her face down close to his and asks if he’s going to run away. They stare into each other’s eyes for a moment before Mig brings the knife down and cuts off Despereaux’s tail. Despereaux races away from the pain, scurrying just like a mouse should. Cook scolds Mig for just getting the tail and approaches the girl, prepared to hit her.
Actually escaping the dungeon, and finding himself back upstairs against all odds, is such a shock to Despereaux that he’s not fully aware of what’s going on until Mig cuts his tail off. Mig, for her part, seems more than capable of being kind and compassionate to beings with less power—she seems willing to let Despereaux go, even if it means putting herself in danger of Cook’s violence.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Principles, Courage, and Growing Up Theme Icon