Study Guide

Tuck Everlasting Lies and Deceit

By Natalie Babbitt

Lies and Deceit

Jesse Tuck's face was instantly serious. "Oh, that. No—no, it's not," he said quickly. "You mustn't drink from it. Comes right up out of the ground. Probably pretty dirty." And he began to pile the pebbles over it again. (5.40)

Jesse isn't so good at lying—not to Winnie, anyway. Why not? After all, he's had plenty of practice. One hundred and four years' worth, to be exact.

"Well, child," she said to Winnie, standing up, "now you share our secret. It's a big, dangerous secret. We got to have your help to keep it. I expect you're full of questions, but we can't stay here no longer." (8.8)

Whoa. Wait a second. These people just met Winnie and they're asking her to keep a secret for them? We have two concerns here: (1) How do they know they can trust her? (2) Isn't that kind of presumptuous?

It was good. So good, in fact, that through it all, not one of them noticed that the man they had passed on the road, the man in the yellow suit, had crept up to the bushes by the stream and heard it all, the whole fantastic story. Nor did they notice that he was following now, beside the road far behind, his mouth, above the thin, gray beard, turned ever so slightly toward a smile. (8.14)

Uh oh. Consider the secret leaked. The beans spilled. The cat out-ed from the bag.

"But they can't stay on in any one place for long, you know. None of us can. People get to wondering." She sighed. "We been in this house about as long as we dare, going on twenty years." (10.10)

What secrets don't come with baggage, really? For the Tucks, this baggage comes in the form of moving around from place to place, never able to make a permanent home.

"I'll take you home. I promised I would, soon's we've explained a bit as to why you got to promise you'll never tell about the spring. That's the only reason we brung you here. We got to make you see why." (11.4)

The only reason the Tucks are still hanging with Winnie is because they need her to promise not to spill the beans about their secret. Not sure that falls under the "true friendship" category.

Was it true? Could they really never die, these Tucks? It had evidently not occurred to them that she might not believe it. They were only concerned that she keep the secret. Well, she did not believe it. It was nonsense. Wasn't it? Well, wasn't it? (14.6)

Because of how removed and observant the narrator is (check out "Tone" for more), Shmoop almost forgot the possibility that the Tucks might be lying about the whole immortality thing. If we had a narrator who just came out and said it—"Um, immortal? Seriously? Prove it."—we might have questioned this earlier.

The Tucks were right. It was best if no one knew about the spring, including the mosquitoes. She would keep the secret. (17.26)

We may not get any input from the narrator herself, but through the tricky technique of free indirect discourse (check out "Writing Style" for an explanation of why that's not a scary term), we get to hear that at least Winnie believes the Tucks.

But Mae's face was dark red. "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." (19.37)

As much as Mae is concerned about protecting Winnie, she's also concerned about keeping the spring thing under wraps. We could look at that two ways: (1) She wants to continue the lie she and her family have perpetuated for so long, or (2) she's protecting more than just Winnie—she's protecting the world at large.

"I can help! When your mother climbs out the window, I'll climb in and take her place. I can wrap myself up in her blanket, and when the constable looks in, he won't be able to tell the difference. Not in the dark. I can hump up and look a lot bigger. Miles can even put the window back. That would give you time to get away! You'd have at least till morning!" (22.21)

Whoa there, ten-year-old criminal. Winnie is actually the brains behind one of the most deceitful (not to mention) illegal acts in the book.

What would happen in the morning, when the constable found her in the cell and had to bring her home for the second time? What would they say? Would they ever trust her again? Winnie squirmed, sitting in the rocker, and swallowed uncomfortably. Well, she would have to make them understand, somehow, without explaining. (23.8)

Sir Walter Scott put it best: "Oh what a tangled web we weave, / When first we practice to deceive!" (Marmion, 7.17). Winnie has gotten herself into a sticky situation, that's for sure.