The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux

by

Kate DiCamillo

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The Tale of Despereaux: Chapter 51 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Roscuro howls in pain and turns to look at where his tail once was. As he does, Despereaux puts the needle point to Roscuro’s heart and threatens to kill him. Amused, Botticelli howls with laughter—he loves when mice come to the dungeon and spice things up. The other rats crowd around to watch the show. Despereaux knows that since he’s a knight, he must protect the princess, but he’s not sure killing Roscuro will “make the darkness go away.” He bows his head, which causes his whiskers to brush Roscuro’s nose. Roscuro asks what he’s smelling. The gathered rats say it’s mouse tears and blood, but Roscuro realizes he’s smelling soup.
As a rat who finds humor in everything, Botticelli thinks what’s happening is hilarious—and on some level, two tailless rodents facing off is funny. But on a more serious note, Despereaux is beginning to suspect that banishing one evil being, like Roscuro, isn’t going to do anything—there is, after all, an entire crowd of evil rats waiting to devour him once watching him argue with Roscuro is no longer interesting. Darkness and evil, this suggests, will continue to crop up, no matter how many efforts one makes to squash them.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Suddenly, Roscuro is back in his memory of the chandelier, the music, and the happy laughing people—all things he’ll never be able to enjoy, since he’s a rat. He begins to sob, and the other rats hiss at him. Roscuro begs Despereaux to kill him and says he just wanted some light. He kidnapped the princess because he wanted some beauty and some light for himself. Botticelli shouts that Despereaux should kill Roscuro, who’s a “miserable excuse for a rat.” But the princess asks Despereaux to not kill Roscuro. Mig waves her knife and offers to kill Roscuro herself.
Suddenly, Roscuro is overcome with what seems like grief. He’s grieving everything he thinks he’ll never be able to have and enjoy, such as light and beauty. Botticelli mocks Roscuro because Roscuro admits, once again, that he doesn’t fit in with the other rats—and for that matter, he’d possibly rather be dead than continue to live as a rat when he doesn’t find the rat identity fulfilling.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Conformity Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Turning to the sobbing Roscuro, the princess puts a hand on her heart. She’s likely feeling the same thing Despereaux did when Lester asked him for forgiveness. That is to say, the Pea realizes how much darkness there is in her heart, and she realizes it’s always fighting with the light in her heart. She doesn’t like Roscuro, but she knows what she has to do for her own heart’s sake. She asks Roscuro if he’d like some soup. The Pea promises that if he leads them out of the dungeon, she’ll ask Cook to make soup and Roscuro can eat it in the banquet hall.
The Pea realizes, in essence, that she can’t go on hating Roscuro for kidnapping her or for killing her mother. She must forgive him, or the darkness that already lurks in her heart will take over. By suggesting they eat soup, the Pea reinforces Cook’s characterization of soup as something healing and that builds community. The soup, she suggests, will make them all feel better—and help them all move on.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Related Quotes
The gathered rats say they still want to eat Despereaux, but Botticelli says the flavor is already ruined—there’s been too much forgiveness, and that’s disgusting. Roscuro asks the Pea if she’s serious, and she says she is. Mig notes that soup is illegal, but Despereaux says soup is still good. Crouching down, the Pea tells Despereaux that he’s her knight, and she’s glad he found her. She suggests they all go upstairs to eat soup, and this is exactly what they do.
Most rats, Botticelli suggests, will never understand the power of forgiveness, as it’s abhorrent to them. This reinforces that in this world, rats are overwhelmingly dark and evil. When Despereaux notes that soup is good despite being illegal, he acknowledges that laws don’t always make sense—something being illegal doesn’t make it bad, it just makes it illegal. This is a more mature way of looking at the world, and it implies that Despereaux has grown up.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Love, Forgiveness, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Principles, Courage, and Growing Up Theme Icon
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