The House in Tuck Everlasting

Instructor: Robin Small

Robin has a BA/MAT in English Ed, and teaches 6th grade English and Writing Lab.

You can learn so much about someone from just a glance inside their home. In this lesson, we will examine the Tucks' house closely, and learn what it reveals about the Tuck family, as well as how it contrasts with Winnie's home.

Home Is Where the Heart Is

The Tucks take Winnie with them on their long trek from the woods near her home to the shore of the pond, where their house is located. By the time they arrive, she is exhausted. Still, details of their home strike her, and she takes notice. '...she was unprepared for the homely little house beside the pond, unprepared for the gentle eddies of dust, the silver cobwebs, the mouse who lived- and welcome to him!- in a table drawer' (50). This is nothing like what she is used to!

Winnie Foster comes from a neat, clean, organized household, where everything is '… scoured into limp submission' (50). In fact, Winnie's home is described earlier in the book as a 'square and solid cottage with a touch-me-not appearance' and a lawn trimmed as short as possible, surrounded by an iron fence that makes certain passers-by feel unwelcome (6).

Wood Cook Stove
Cook Stove

Homely Little House Beside the Pond

Winnie is fascinated by the contrast of her own home with that of the Tucks. The Tucks' house is by the pond, in which there are three stuffed full rooms. The first room is the kitchen, with a large black cook stove, a sink full of dirty dishes, and a variety of objects hung from the walls and ceiling that Winnie can barely take in. The living room has furniture so worn that it is 'sloping with age,' and chairs arranged in a random way, 'like strangers at a party, ignoring each other' (51). Strewn all around the house is evidence of Mae and Angus' creative work, needles stuck into the arms of the sofa and half-finished whittled toys.

Sewing needles stuck in the arms of the sofa
Sewing needles stuck in the arms of the sofa

Then there is the Tucks' bedroom and the boys' sleeping loft up above. There is one more thing present in the Tucks' house that surprises Winnie: the outdoors. There are 'streaks of light…. bowls of daisies everywhere,' and, 'over everything was the clean sweet smell of the water and its weeds' (52). Even the sounds from outdoors have settled inside, so that Winnie hears kingfishes, bullfrogs, and all kinds of other bird calls floating through the house from the pond. Winne wonders over the disarray, but she doesn't find it unpleasant, just overwhelming. ' 'Maybe it's because they think they have forever to clean it up,' and this was followed by another thought, far more revolutionary: 'Maybe they just don't care!' ' (53).

A Different Kind of Curb Appeal

The differences between the Tucks' and Winnie's home reflect their oppositional ideas about life. Winnie's parents keep her isolated from the world, locked out of the woods with an iron fence. Their strategy is nearly successful, because until the day she goes to explore the woods, she seldom wondered what was out there at all. Winnie's house is designed to keep her in and keep everyone and everything else out. It's a 'touch-me-not' house that has been cleaned into submission.

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