The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux

by

Kate DiCamillo

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The Tale of Despereaux: Chapter 39 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The sun rises, “shed[ding] light on what Roscuro and Miggery Sow had done.” Despereaux wakes up to hear Louise and Cook shouting: they don’t know what happened to “her,” and Gregory is dead. Despereaux peeks around the pantry door to see Cook wringing her hands. Louise continues that the king’s men went to the dungeon looking for “her” and came back with Gregory’s body. Mig is also missing. Despereaux knows he’s too late: the princess is gone. Sobbing, Cook asks what kind of a world it is where princesses disappear and queens drop dead, and they can’t even have soup. Louise begs Cook to stay quiet, but Cook shouts “Soup!” several times.
Louise and Cook are shouting about the princess (she’s the “her” they’re talking about); Mig, as a serving girl, is just an afterthought. This is devastating for Despereaux to hear, especially as he learns too that Gregory is dead. It seems, to him, that all good in the world is being taken away. Cook echoes this idea when she starts shouting about soup, a good thing that she doesn’t have legal access to anymore. Her willingness to say the word, though, offers hope that King Phillip might still be able to heal and change his mind about soup, since others in the castle won’t let him forget that soup is good and tasty.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Principles, Courage, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Louise reaches out to comfort Cook, but Cook slaps her hand away and says nothing will ever be right again. There’s nothing to live for without the princess, she says. Despereaux is shocked, as he never expected to hear someone like Cook speak what’s in his own heart. Finally, Cook allows Louise to comfort her, and Despereaux knows what he must do: he has to speak to the king. He heard Roscuro’s plan and knows the Pea is in the dungeon. He’s also brighter than Mig, so he understands that Mig will never be a princess and that Roscuro will never let the Pea go. Despereaux, covered in oil and flour and without a tail, sneaks past the women to find the king.
As far as Despereaux is concerned, Cook isn’t a nice person. She tried to kill him, after all. So, it’s a shock to hear that she’s grieving the princess’s loss just as much as he is—and, perhaps, Cook might be an ally later on. Despereaux’s youth shines through as he decides to seek out the king for help. Doing this shows that Despereaux trusts authority figures to step in when bad events happen—and, in turn, he doesn’t necessarily see himself as capable of fixing things yet himself.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Principles, Courage, and Growing Up Theme Icon
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