Tuck Everlasting

by

Natalie Babbitt

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Tuck Everlasting can help.

Tuck Everlasting: Chapter Twenty-One Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Winnie pulls a child-size rocking chair up to her window. She sits in it even though it's too small because it makes her feel comfortable and soothed. She remembers how, when the constable brought her home, her mother, father, and Granny met her at the fence. They refused to believe that Winnie left of her own accord and that the Tucks were good and kind people. They were horrified when Winnie told them that Mae hit the man in the yellow suit, and Winnie's father reasons that they'll get the wood back if he doesn't make it. He cannot finish the sentence, however, and when Winnie finishes it for him, the adults are shocked. They tuck her into bed and treat her as though she's a different child than the one that left.
The way that Winnie's parents treat her makes it very clear that what Winnie experienced at the Tucks catapulted her into maturity in a number of ways. She now understands that death is necessary and is willing to speak these hard truths, as well as ask the adults to listen to what she has to say. However, even as she's taken these steps in the direction of maturity, Winnie is still a child. She still seeks comfort from things like the rocking chair, which is a reminder of how safe and comfortable her childhood was before she learned these difficult things.
Themes
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Sitting in her rocking chair, Winnie thinks that she is different and experienced things that are “hers alone.” She finds this lonely and somewhat satisfying. The rocking makes her feel connected to her family, but she also now feels connected to the Tucks. Winnie watches heat lightning in the distance, puts her head on her arms, and sees an image of the man in the yellow suit, motionless in the dust. She thinks that the man can't die, but she also thinks that if the Tucks' story about the spring is true, the man has to die. Winnie knows that this is why Mae hit him.
Feeling connected to both the Tucks and to Winnie's family shows that as Winnie has gone through this journey to start to come of age, an essential part of that was making new friends that are hers and hers alone. The fact that she finds this independence both satisfying and lonesome speaks to her liminal space in her development, where she's not totally a child but not entirely an independent adult yet.
Themes
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
Winnie hears hoof beats and a knock at the door. She creeps out of her room and listens to the constable tell her father that they can't press kidnapping charges, since Winnie says she chose to leave. However, the man in the yellow suit is dead and now Mae is a convicted murderer. Winnie creeps back to her room, climbs into bed, and thinks that Mae killed the man and meant to do it. She remembers killing a wasp once so it wouldn't sting her, but when she saw the wasp's body, she cried and wished it were alive again. Winnie wonders if Mae wishes the man in the yellow suit were alive, even if Mae does want to save the world. Winnie decides that she has to do something to save Mae from the gallows.
Winnie's thought process shows a great deal of maturity and nuance. She recognizes that there are multiple ways to look at what happened and importantly, that she doesn't have to choose to look at things from only one direction: she can mourn and feel bad for the loss of the man in the yellow suit, while also believing that Mae did the right thing in killing him. Because Mae is Winnie's friend, that connection gives her the space to come to this mature conclusion and illustrates how friendship can help foster this nuance.
Themes
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
Related Quotes