The next few minutes become almost a blur to Winnie. She is seized, swung through the air, and forced to straddle the fat old horse while Miles and Jesse trot alongside it and Mae puffs on ahead, dragging the bridle. This is nothing like her fears of being kidnapped, because the kidnappers are just as alarmed as she is. The Tucks plead with her not to be afraid, that they would never harm her, and that they will explain everything as soon as they are far enough away. Winnie, surprisingly, is fiercely calm and thinks that for the first time, she is riding a horse and what would the Toad say if it could see her now.
Just as they come to the edge of the wood, who should appear but the Man in the Yellow Suit. Winnie thinks she can call to him for help, but instead she merely stares at him as Mae explains that they are “teaching their little girl how to ride.” Finally, they stop at a place where a shallow stream loops near some willows and sheltering scrub bushes. Mae decides they’ll catch their breath and try to set things straight before they go on. However, the explanation comes hard. Winnie comes to realize at the same time that she might never see her mother again and begins to cry. Mae is dismayed to see the little girl cry and insists they are not bad people and will take her home the next day. They chastise themselves that they never had a better plan than this and that they had plenty of time to create one. Mae is just shocked that what they knew would always happen comes about as the result of a child. Without thinking, she begins to wind the key to her music box in her pocket and when the melody begins to play, Winnie stops sobbing. She had heard the same music the night before. Mae allows her to hold it and wind it again and Winnie concludes that no one who owns something this pretty could be disagreeable. Jesse then tells her that they are her friends and that she has to help them. He has her sit down as he begins to tell her why.
Winnie’s metamorphosis continues with the wild moments after she is “kidnapped.” She is strangely calm about the whole thing as if she knows intuitively that she is not in danger. She also, instinctively perhaps, doesn’t call out to the Man in the Yellow Suit for help. Maybe she subconsciously knows that he is worse than her “kidnappers” are. As for the Tucks, they give the reader many clues to the gravity of their secret. They run in a panic away from the spring under the pebbles, they take Winnie with them even though she doesn’t know them, they lie to the Man in the Yellow Suit, and they chastise themselves for never hatching a better plan for what would come sooner or later. Their story, as a result of all this foreshadowing, promises to be an intriguing one.
The Toad continues to be a symbol of metamorphosis, as he seems to be everywhere that change takes place such as Winnie discovering the mysterious spring. The music box is also a symbol. It represents how the simplest of things can make Mae happy. It is a memory that the Man in the Yellow Suit pursues greedily. And it is a calming influence on Winnie. It is also in some ways pure fantasy as its melody had been thought to from the elves according to Winnie’s grandmother.
Winnie is the Tucks’ first real audience and they gather around her like children at their mother’s knee, trying to claim her attention. It seems that 87 years before, the Tucks had come from a long way east looking for a place to settle. They came to the spot that was now the Fosters’ wood and turned from the trail to find a camping place. It was there that they happened on the spring. They stopped and everyone, except their cat took a drink, even the horse. The water tasted somewhat strange, but they camped there overnight anyway and the next morning, Angus Tuck, the father, carved a T on the trunk to mark where they had been. Then, they moved on. Many miles to the west, they found a thinly populate valley and started a farm. Then, they began to notice peculiar things: Jesse fell out of a tree right onto his head, but it didn’t hurt him a bit, someone shot the horse, mistaking him for a deer, but the bullet went right through and hardly left a mark, Pa was snake bitten, Jesse ate poison toadstools, and Ma cut herself severely. In all these instances, nothing hurt them. Finally, as more time passed, they saw they weren’t getting any older. Miles’ wife believed he’d sold his soul to the devil and left him along with their two children.
Their friends began to talk of witchcraft and they finally realized they had to leave the farm. Therefore, they began to wander like gypsies until they came back through the area where they had carved the T on the trunk of the tree. They saw that everything around this spot was still fresh and young, and they decided it had to be the water. To prove it, Angus picked up his gun and shot himself. The shot knocked him down when the bullet plowed through his heart. However, it scarcely even left a mark. That’s when they knew they were going to live forever. At first, they were exultant, but when they began to talk about it, they realized the danger if everyone knew about the spring. No one would die and that would be bad for the world as a whole. Angus believed that the spring was something left over from the original plan for the world, some plan that didn’t work out too well, a plan that caused everything to change. Jesse then tells Winnie that he wasn’t kidding when he said he was 104 years old. He really is, only he’ll look and be seventeen forever.
This is an eye-opening chapter in that it presents the story behind the Tucks’ strange behavior. It’s obvious they feel relieved to finally tell someone about the spring, but at the same time, they are concerned that no one else find out. This chapter also brings out religious elements with the ideas of the devil and witchcraft and the plan that Angus refers to. It is most assuredly a reference to the Garden of Eden and how Adam and Eve had lost their immortality. The spring is an element that has somehow been left behind from when the world was a perfect creation of God.
Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Tuck Everlasting".
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