Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting: Literature Guide

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To Live or Not to Live, Forever

Jul 17, 2000
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:good story

Cons:lots of issues presented, young readers need to be able to ask questions, and discuss

Early explorers came to this continent in search of a fountain of youth. The quest became an obsession, and some believed that they had discovered the water of eternal life in Florida. In today’s world that search still continues. We are forever looking for ways to prevent our bodies from aging. The simple fact is that humans grow old. Have you ever stopped to think, just what would it be like, if there was such a fountain?? What would it be like to never grow old???

Tuck Everlasting about a family that discovered a stream of water. They innocently drink from this stream and find that they have been placed in a state of suspended aging. Their bodies will never get any older than they were at the time they drank from the stream.

Natalie Babbitt has written a story that really makes the reader stop and think. This story is geared toward the upper elementary age student. She poses some real life questions to her readers. As this scene in the family’s life unfolds, the questions of eternal life, right judgment, and honesty prevail. The family has lived a secret, almost nomadic life, fearful that they will be recognized, or remembered for the last 87 years. They know what has happened to them, and they know that authorities will ask questions and in the process of discovering why they do not age, the townspeople will consider them evil. They live a life of fear. The family, Mae and Angus Tuck, live in a forest, far from the community. They have two sons that they only see every ten years. The boys were teenagers when they drank from the spring, and now they continue to be teenagers.

Winnie is a young girl, living nearby, that is very unhappy with her life. She wants to run away from home. There is also a stranger wandering around town, the mysterious man in a yellow suit. As Winnie decides to run away, she is drawn toward the path, where the stream is located. She doesn’t know about the stream, and as she is about to drink from it, she is whisked away, and taken into the forest. It is here that she meets the Tucks, and learns about their family, what happened to them, and why they really didn’t want the same thing to happen to her. It takes a while for her to understand, but eventually she does, and she grows to love and admire the Tucks.

The story presents some very strong views about life. Miles Tuck, one of the sons, claims that if you live in this world, you have to do something useful. Mae believes that life has to be lived, no matter how long or short.

As the story continues, the man in the yellow suit finds Winnie and the Tucks. He contacts the sheriff, and a very ugly scene explodes at the Tuck house. Exactly what the Tucks were afraid might happen, if they were ever discovered. Some very strong story events happen, bringing to light some very pertinent life issues. The reader is enticed into contemplating these issues as the story continues.

Winnie and one of the Tuck sons, Jesse, seem to develop an eye for each other. As the story begins to conclude Jesse gives Winnie a bottle of water, asking her to drink it when she turns 17, so that both of them can live as 17 year olds eternally. The question in Winnie’s mind, and in that of the reader is whether or not she actually will drink the water. The reader begins to assess the pros and cons of immortality, the right or wrong of judgments and decisions made in the story, and whether or not love can conquer over death.

This is a fantasy story. It is a story about love, and greed, and self-examination of beliefs. It is not religious in nature, but if the reader has specific religious affiliations, then those cornerstones will play a role in the interpretation of the story. This is a story geared toward an audience of upper elementary students, but a book that should be read and discussed with the students. It is a story that allows the reader to develop the imaginative scenario, and to think about his or her own reaction to the situation.






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