The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux

by

Kate DiCamillo

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The Tale of Despereaux: Chapter 36 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
While Despereaux sleeps, Roscuro puts his plan into action. It’s not a pretty story, as there’s violence and cruelty in it. But ugly stories have value too, and readers are surely aware that life “cannot always be sweetness and light.” First, Roscuro chews through Gregory’s rope, causing Gregory to get lost in the dungeon. Then, late at night, Roscuro hides in Miggery Sow’s pocket as she carries a kitchen knife in her other pocket and a candle in her hand. In a shout, Mig remarks on the darkness and starts to say what she’ll do when she’s a princess, but Roscuro implores her to whisper. He asks if she remembers the plan.
Here, the narrator gets a little more overt about supporting the novel’s insistence that good and evil coexist and are always in conflict. This story is what it is, the narrator suggests, because there are passages that are dark, violent, and cruel—they make the happier passages feel all the happier because of the contrast. Similarly, this suggests that Gregory’s tragic death is necessary to the story—and hopefully, something happier will come of it.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Mig repeats the plan: they’ll sneak into the Princess Pea’s room when she’s asleep, wake her up and show her the knife, and they’ll tell her to come with them. They won’t hurt her, because the Princess Pea is going to be Mig’s lady in waiting when she’s the princess. Then, they’ll invite the princess to come with them on a “little journey” to the dungeon, where the Pea will get lessons in being a servant and Mig will get a lesson in how to be a princess. They’ll then switch places.
Roscuro is still preying on Mig’s desire for power, kindness, and beauty: he’s promised her all of these things in exchange for helping him lure the princess to the dungeon. Interestingly, Roscuro seems to desire the same things as Mig, but while she seems innocent to how horrible kidnapping the princess is, Roscuro certainly knows that what he’s doing is evil.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
The narrator acknowledges that Roscuro’s plan is ridiculous. Nobody will ever mistake the Princess Pea for Mig, or vice versa—but Mig isn’t the most intelligent, and she desperately wants to be a princess. Because of these things, she wholeheartedly believes in Roscuro’s plan. Roscuro’s real plan is simpler than the one he shared with Mig. He’s going to take the princess to the darkest part of the dungeon, have Mig chain the princess up, and keep the glittering princess imprisoned in the dark forever.
Recall that the princess is often described as being almost a living embodiment of light and goodness. Roscuro essentially wants to keep a person who represents light, beauty, and goodness trapped in the dungeon for himself, where only he can enjoy her light and her beauty. The novel also highlights how powerful hope and longing are, as it’s these emotions that make Mig believe in Roscuro’s plan.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon