Tuck Everlasting

by

Natalie Babbitt

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Mae is a kind, "potato-shaped" woman. She's more than 100 years old because, 87 years before the start of the novel, she and her family unwittingly drank water from a magical brook that made them immortal. Mae is of the mind that life is meant to be lived, no matter how long or short a person's life might be. She finds her husband Angus's tendency to dwell on his immortality and think of it as a bad thing tiring and unproductive. Mae carries a small music box with her everywhere and after she meets Winnie, she discovers that Winnie's Granny thinks that the music comes from elves. In reality, Mae meets her sons, Miles and Jesse, in the wood every ten years and she winds up her music box while she's in the wood. Though Mae accepts her lot in life, she understands that being immortal is hard for Miles and Jesse, who were ready to live adult lives and, because of their immortality, never really got the opportunity to do so. Because of this, she believes that it's extremely important that she and her family make it clear to Winnie that immortality isn't actually something that anyone wants to have. This discussion becomes even more difficult when the man in the yellow suit, who heard about the Tucks from his grandmother, arrives to take Winnie away and says he wants to sell the water. To stop him from making Winnie drink the water, Mae hits the man over the head with her rifle and kills him. She accepts that she has to go to jail for this, though her family breaks her out and they run away so that Mae doesn't get sentenced to death by hanging, which would give away the secret.

Mae Tuck Quotes in Tuck Everlasting

The Tuck Everlasting quotes below are all either spoken by Mae Tuck or refer to Mae Tuck. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Square Fish edition of Tuck Everlasting published in 1975.
Prologue Quotes

No connection, you would agree. But things can come together in strange ways. The wood was at the center, the hub of the wheel. All wheels must have a hub. A Ferris wheel has one, as the sun is the hub of the wheeling calendar. Fixed points they are, and best left undisturbed, for without them, nothing holds together. But sometimes people find this out too late.

Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Six Quotes

Winnie had often been haunted by visions of what it would be like to be kidnapped. But none of her visions had been like this, with her kidnappers just as alarmed as she was herself. She had always pictured a troupe of burly men with long black moustaches who would tumble her into a blanket and bear her off like a sack of potatoes while she pleaded for mercy. But, instead, it was they, Mae Tuck and Miles and Jesse, who were pleading.

Related Characters: Winnie Foster, Mae Tuck, Miles Tuck, Jesse Tuck
Page Number: 31-32
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Eight Quotes

"Just think of all the things we've seen in the world! All the things we're going to see!"

"That kind of talk'll make her want to rush back and drink a gallon of the stuff," warned Miles. "There's a whole lot more to it than Jesse Tuck's good times, you know."

"Oh, stuff," said Jesse with a shrug. "We might as well enjoy it, long as we can't change it. You don't have to be such a parson all the time."

"I'm not being a parson," said Miles. "I just think you ought to take it more serious."

Related Characters: Miles Tuck (speaker), Jesse Tuck (speaker), Winnie Foster, Mae Tuck
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

But she felt there was nothing to be afraid of, not really. For they seemed gentle. Gentle and--in a strange way--childlike. They made her feel old. And the way they spoke to her, the way they looked at her, made her feel special. Important. It was a warm, spreading feeling, entirely new. She liked it, and in spite of their story, she liked them, too--especially Jesse.

Related Characters: Winnie Foster, Mae Tuck, Miles Tuck, Jesse Tuck
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

Closing the gate on her oldest fears as she had closed the gate of her own fenced yard, she discovered the wings she'd always wished she had. And all at once she was elated. Where were the terrors she'd been told she should expect? She could not recognize them anywhere. The sweet earth opened out its wide four corners to her like the petals of a flower ready to be picked, and it shimmered with light and possibility till she was dizzy with it. Her mother's voice, the feel of home, receded for the moment, and her thoughts turned forward. Why, she, too, might live forever in this remarkable world she was only just discovering!

Related Characters: Winnie Foster, Mae Tuck, Miles Tuck, Jesse Tuck
Related Symbols: The Fence
Page Number: 44-45
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Ten Quotes

"Jesse, now, he don't ever seem too settled in himself. Course, he's young." She stopped and smiled. "That sounds funny, don't it? Still, it's true, just the same."

Related Characters: Mae Tuck (speaker), Winnie Foster, Jesse Tuck
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

It sounded rather sad to Winnie, never to belong anywhere. "That's too bad," she said, glancing shyly at Mae. "Always moving around and never having any friends or anything."

Related Characters: Winnie Foster (speaker), Mae Tuck, Angus Tuck
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

"Life's got to be lived, no matter how long or short," she said calmly. "You got to take what comes. We just go along, like everybody else, one day at a time."

Related Characters: Mae Tuck (speaker), Winnie Foster, Angus Tuck
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Nineteen Quotes

"Not Winnie!" she said between clenched teeth. "You ain't going to do a thing like that to Winnie. And you ain't going to give out the secret." Her strong arms swung the shotgun round her head, like a wheel. The man in the yellow suit jerked away, but it was too late. With a dull cracking sound, the stock of the shotgun smashed into the back of his skull. He dropped like a tree, his face surprised, his eyes wide open.

Related Characters: Mae Tuck (speaker), Winnie Foster, The Man in the Yellow Suit
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Twenty Quotes

And then Winnie said something she had never said before, but the words were words she had sometimes heard, and often longed to hear. They sounded strange on her own lips and made her sit up straighter. "Mr. Tuck," she said, "don't worry. Everything's going to be all right."

Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Twenty-One Quotes

Was Mae weeping now for the man in the yellow suit? In spite of her wish to spare the world, did she wish he were alive again? There was no way of knowing. But Mae had done what she thought she had to do.

Related Symbols: Winnie's Rocking Chair
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Twenty-Two Quotes

"I mean, what'll they say to you after, when they find out?"

"I don't know," said Winnie, "but it doesn't matter. Tell your father I want to help. I have to help. If it wasn't for me, there wouldn't have been any trouble in the first place."

Related Characters: Winnie Foster (speaker), Jesse Tuck (speaker), Mae Tuck, Angus Tuck, Winnie's Mother, Winnie's Father
Related Symbols: The Fence
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Tuck Everlasting LitChart as a printable PDF.
Tuck Everlasting PDF

Mae Tuck Character Timeline in Tuck Everlasting

The timeline below shows where the character Mae Tuck appears in Tuck Everlasting. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
...time of year, three things happened that seem disconnected but actually are very connected. First, Mae Tuck left for Treegap to meet her sons, Miles and Jesse. Winnie Foster, whose parents... (full context)
Chapter Two
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
Mae wakes up at dawn on the first day of the first week of August and... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
Mae dresses and as she pulls on a shawl, Angus sleepily says it's too warm for... (full context)
Chapter Five
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
...the brook. They hear a crash a little ways away and Jesse calls gratefully for Mae and Miles. They appear in the clearing and Mae looks as though Winnie is the... (full context)
Chapter Six
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
After a few minutes, the road passes close to a small stream. Mae stops and decides that they'll catch their breath and tell Winnie why they're kidnapping her.... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
...she gets home, she'll tell Granny that elves don't make the music. She turns to Mae and shares that Granny thinks that elves make the music. Mae offers Winnie the music... (full context)
Chapter Seven
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
What Mae, Jesse, and Miles tell Winnie is the strangest thing she's ever heard. They explain that... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
...realized that it'd be awful if everyone in the world found out about the stream. Mae looks Winnie in the eye and says that if she drank the water now, she'd... (full context)
Chapter Eight
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
Addressing Winnie, Mae says that they need her help in keeping the secret. She says that they'll answer... (full context)
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
With a whoop of joy, Jesse asks Mae for breakfast. They walk and ride along, eating bread and cheese. Jesse swings from trees... (full context)
Chapter Nine
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
...noon. Miles carries her for a while and she sleeps in his arms while wearing Mae's sunhat to keep her from getting too burnt. The landscape is dry and motionless except... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
When Mae and Winnie reach the house, Angus is there and demands to see the "real, honest-to-goodness,... (full context)
Chapter Ten
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Though Mae says after giving Winnie the tour that this is all, Winnie sees so much more.... (full context)
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
In the loft, Mae explains that Jesse and Miles aren't home much. Winnie asks what they do when they're... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
...that moving all the time and not having close friends sounds sad, and she tells Mae this. Mae says that she and Angus have each other, though she notes that Jesse... (full context)
Chapter Eleven
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
Winnie puts her fork down and announces that she wants to go home. Kindly, Mae says that she'll take Winnie home tomorrow, after Winnie promises to keep the stream a... (full context)
Chapter Fourteen
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
As Mae makes the sofa into a bed for Winnie, Angus and Jesse discuss the possible motive... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter Eighteen
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
When Miles and Winnie return to the house, Miles tells Mae that they didn't catch anything they wanted to keep. Mae makes flapjacks and is serving... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
...Then, someone knocks at the door. The Tucks are shocked, as they've never had visitors. Mae goes to the door and opens it. It's the man in the yellow suit. (full context)
Chapter Nineteen
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
Mae tells the man in the yellow suit that he has no right to talk to... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
Mae goes suddenly pale and asks the man in the yellow suit what he's going to... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
...out the door. Winnie screams that she won't go with him. She turns to see Mae behind her, holding the rifle like a club, and Mae tells the man to leave... (full context)
Chapter Twenty
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
...Angus as the constable declares that the man in the yellow suit isn't dead yet. Mae explains that she hit the man because he was trying to take Winnie away against... (full context)
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
...after him until he can send a doctor. He says that he has to take Mae and put her in jail, and he needs to take Winnie home. Miles and Jesse... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
...Winnie again assures Angus that things will be okay. She sits up straight and watches Mae ride in front of her. Winnie looks at the meadows and fields around her and... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-One
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
...the spring is true, the man has to die. Winnie knows that this is why Mae hit him. (full context)
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Two
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
...come in if it gets too hot. Winnie leans against the fence and thinks of Mae in the jailhouse. She suddenly notices the toad on the other side of the road.... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
...grabs his hand through the fence and asks if they have a plan to get Mae out. Jesse whispers that Miles is planning to use his carpentry skills to remove the... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
Winnie accepts the bottle and excitedly whispers that she can help. She says that after Mae escapes, she can take her place in the jail cell, make herself look large, and... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Three
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
...guilty. She knows that she shouldn't go down to the jailhouse and switch places with Mae and she wonders if her parents will ever trust her again. Around 11 o'clock, Winnie... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Four
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
...the window frame. They drop down when they hear the constable whistling as he checks Mae's cell, but when they see his light disappear, Miles returns to the window and pulls... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
Mae slowly climbs out the window with Angus's help and lands in a heap on the... (full context)
Epilogue
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
Mae and Angus ride into Treegap on a wagon, pulled by their old horse. The town... (full context)
The Purpose of Living Theme Icon
Childhood, Independence, and Maturity Theme Icon
Nature and the Cycle of Life Theme Icon
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
Later, while Mae shops for supplies, Angus walks back through town to a little hill and the cemetery... (full context)
Morality, Choices, and Friendship Theme Icon
As Mae and Angus leave town, they discuss that Winnie died and feel sorry for Jesse, even... (full context)