Tuck Everlasting

by

Natalie Babbitt

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Tuck Everlasting: Chapter Fourteen Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As Mae makes the sofa into a bed for Winnie, Angus and Jesse discuss the possible motive of the horse thief. Angus has a bad feeling about it and wonders if the thief had a special reason for stealing the horse. Mae says soothingly that there's nothing they can do now, so it's best to get a good night's sleep and deal with it in the morning.
Mae's advice again shows that as far as she's concerned, she and her family have to do what they can do and shouldn't waste time or energy worrying about things they cannot change. With this, she advocates for looking forward and taking action, rather than dwelling on the past.
Themes
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Winnie stays awake for a long time. The sofa isn't at all comfortable and Winnie feels lost without her nightgown and her bedtime routine. She no longer feels happy about running away; she's afraid and thinks that being here with the Tucks is an outrage, though she recognizes she can't do anything about it. She muses that the Tucks never seemed to consider that she might not believe their story. She thinks of the man in the yellow suit and is comforted when she reasons that he's probably told her parents where she is by now.
This regression to anger and terror reminds the reader that Winnie will continue to bounce back and forth between fear and elation as she continues to come of age. Her sense of her own helplessness, meanwhile, suggests that she still thinks of herself as a child without the power to make choices—in reality she could, of course, choose to get up and set off for home by herself.
Themes
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
Winnie thinks of this over and over again until, finally, the sounds of the night are more interesting than her scared thoughts. Just as she starts to fall asleep, Mae tiptoes out to check on her. Mae apologizes for bringing Winnie here and awkwardly says that having her here is a good feeling. She touches Winnie's hair and says that she wishes Winnie were theirs.
Even as Mae advocates for looking to the future, her treatment of Winnie here suggests that she still dreams of things she can't have, like more children or grandchildren that will grow and change. Again, Winnie becomes a symbol of a purposeful life, and of a life that Mae cannot have.
Themes
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
A while later, Angus also comes out to check on Winnie. He offers to sit with her until she falls asleep, which surprises and touches Winnie. Uncertainly, he tells her to yell if she needs something and apologizes for the uncomfortable sofa. He kisses her cheek before returning to bed. Winnie feels both confused and cared for. She suddenly wonders what will happen to the Tucks when her father arrives, and wonders if she'd be able to explain how kind the Tucks have been to her. Winnie remembers thinking that the Tucks were criminals, and guiltily thinks that maybe they still are.
By offering to sit with Winnie, Angus shows her that though he recognizes her maturity and her capacity to understand complex concepts, he also recognizes that she's a child in need of comfort. Winnie's realization that she'll have to explain all of this to her father shows that she's realizing that this situation is more complex than a simple kidnapping, especially as she begins to decide that the Tucks might not actually be evil criminals. The confusion that Winnie feels here hints at the choice she’ll soon have to make about what it means for her to do the right thing.
Themes
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
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Not long after Angus leaves, Jesse creeps down the loft stairs and kneels beside the sofa. Wide-eyed, he says that Winnie definitely has to keep the secret, but he also suggests that when she's 17, she should go drink the water and come away with him. He says that they could get married and have lots of fun, as life is meant to be enjoyed. Winnie feels overwhelmed,  thinking that Jesse seems “amazing.” She agrees to think on it, but she doesn't know what to think or believe.
Jesse's suggestion that they get married indicates that he does want to mature and grow up, but remember that he'll forever be 17. Asking her to take this leap for him speaks to how lonely he is, given that he has to keep his immortality a secret and cannot ever truly connect with anyone, friends and romantic partners alike.
Themes
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon