The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux

by

Kate DiCamillo

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The Tale of Despereaux: Chapter 37 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The Princess Pea is asleep and dreaming that the queen is holding a spoonful of soup out for the Pea to taste. The Pea declares that the soup is the best she’s ever had and asks for more, but the queen says the Pea just got a small taste so she’ll remember. When the Pea says she wants more, the queen, the bowl, and the spoon all disappear. The Pea hears her name and thinks it’s her mother, but she wakes up to Miggery Sow standing over her with a knife. At Roscuro’s prodding, Mig says the Pea must come with her unless she wants to get hurt. The Pea is annoyed, since she’s not used to taking orders. But Mig shouts that in the “deep downs,” they’re both going to take some lessons and then they can switch places.
In the Pea’s mind, calming, healing soup is connected to her mother. This dream can be read as a warning that the Pea shouldn’t forget how good and powerful soup is, even if the king has outlawed it—in other words, King Phillip wasn’t necessarily right to do what he did. But when the Pea wakes up to Mig and Roscuro with a knife, it suggests that in the Pea’s current world (without soup), things are dangerous. Life is also turning upside-down; the Pea isn’t in her usual position of power, while powerless Mig is suddenly in charge. Though King Phillip tried to maintain order (as when he wouldn’t let Despereaux speak to the Pea), he hasn’t been effective.
Themes
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Roscuro shouts that Mig is doing it wrong and emerges from her pocket. He crawls onto Mig’s shoulder and addressing the Pea himself, he tips his spoon crown to her and suggests that he follow Mig. Mig has a knife, after all. The Pea says she’s a princess and nobody can threaten her, but Roscuro points out that knives are capable of making even royalty bleed. The Pea looks to Mig pleadingly, but Roscuro says Mig is dangerous and “easily led.” She says she thought she and Mig were friends, but Roscuro says that’s not true—and he’s in charge, so the princess should speak to him.
That Roscuro is willing to shout at Mig (recall that he doesn’t have to shout to be heard) should tip Mig off to the fact that she shouldn’t trust him—he’s only pretending to show her respect. As the Pea confronts that Mig, someone she liked and respected, has turned on her, she gets a small taste of the constant, life-changing betrayals that Mig has suffered her whole life.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Principles, Courage, and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Princess Pea looks straight at Roscuro, and her heart skips several beats. Roscuro asks if she knows him. She says she doesn’t, but in truth, she recognizes him as the rat who fell in the queen’s soup, because it’s her mother’s soup spoon on Roscuro’s head. The Pea looks down, enraged. Roscuro asks if it “pain[s] her royal sensibilities” to look at a rat, but the Pea maintains she doesn’t know Roscuro. At this, Roscuro says they’re going on a journey, and he’d like the Pea to wear the gown she wore at the banquet. Mig adds that the Pea must also wear her crown.
The Pea has to accept that in some ways, Roscuro is right: he’s the powerful one in this situation, and if the Pea wants to survive this, she must give in and go with him. It’s telling, though, that even the Pea feels such strong anger toward a rat. As a character, she’s overwhelmingly good and kind. But yet, she’s still just as capable as anyone else of feeling destructive negative emotions.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
As she dresses, the Pea asks if Mig will do up her buttons for her. Roscuro says Mig will not put her knife down; he’ll do the buttons. As he crawls over the Pea’s back, the Pea licks her lips and thinks of the soup in her dream. She whispers that she hasn’t forgotten her mother the queen—or soup.
The memory of the soup gives the Pea the strength to keep going. This offers hope that something, perhaps even soup, might be able to stop Roscuro and bring Mig and the Pea back together as friends.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
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