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The Man in the Yellow Suit in Tuck Everlasting

Instructor: Robin Small

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

In 'Tuck Everlasting', the man in the yellow suit arrives to deliver the central conflict of the story. In this lesson, we will take a closer look at this character and how he fits into the narrative.

First Encounter

In Tuck Everlasting, the man in the yellow suit first turns up while Winnie is catching fireflies in her yard. He speaks in a 'light voice,' is 'tall,' and 'narrow' with 'an apologetic beard' and a suit that is 'a jaunty yellow,'(17). There is nothing unnerving about him, and yet Winnie takes a second look. He is constantly moving. For reasons she can't pin down, his movements remind her of a puppet or black ribbons at her grandfather's funeral. There is something unnatural about him, and while he seems friendly, she remains unsure about him.

The man questions her grandmother, but she stops him. She's heard music coming from the woods. 'That's the elf music I told you about' (20). The man wants to ask her about it, but she dismisses him, and takes Winnie inside. He stands outside for quite some time, listening. Before he leaves, 'His expression was one of intense satisfaction.' He's on the Tucks' trail now (21).

On the Trail of the Tucks

Now that he's heard the music, the man knows the Tucks are in town. He is searching for them, and Winnie accidentally helps him on his search. The man sees Winnie riding Tuck's horse and follows their trail. When Mae tells Winnie about how the water has made them immortal, he hears the whole story. When Winnie is out on the lake on the rowboat, he sneaks up and steals their horse. He's lurking in the background of these scenes, gathering information to use for his own greedy plan.

Trouble Looms

Tuck is in a hurry to get Winnie out onto the pond and explain to her why she should help keep the spring of water secret. Mae wants to know what the hurry is and why he's worried. No one saw them kidnap Winnie, they say, except Winnie points out that they saw the man in the yellow suit on the road. She didn't call for help. She was too scared, but talking about him makes her hope for rescue. She was suspicious of him when she met him in her yard, but she doesn't think of that now. 'In fact, he seemed supremely nice to her now, a kind of savior' (59). She is secretly hoping he tells her family and that someone is on their way to take her home again.

The Trap Is Set

The man has stolen the horse and ridden back to tell Winnie's parents where she is. However, before he tells them, he is going to make sure he gets what he wants. He offers Winnie's family a deal: Sign over the woods, and he'll tell them where to find her. He talks like a slimy salesman while negotiating this deal. 'And how pleasant to have neighbors like yourselves!' (74). He talks for two pages, and Winnie's family silently agrees. He gathers up the constable and heads out to retrieve Winnie. Now, he is the owner of the woods where the spring is located and heads up there with the constable in tow. He's got plans. Now he just has to get the Tucks on board.

The man has plans for the water
Woodland Stream

His Plan and Mae's Reaction

The man in the yellow suit arrives at the Tuck residence quite a bit ahead of the constable. He makes his case to the Tuck family, beginning with his own personal history. When he begins talking, 'His face was smooth and empty' (94). He tells of the stories he heard growing up, about a family that didn't age. He reveals that his grandmother told him about Mae's music box. He tells them his plans for selling the water. He offers to let them in on his business, but they are horrified. He grabs Winnie and begins to leave.

The man in the yellow suit berates the Tucks for being selfish and keeping the immortal water to themselves. He calls them stupid and assures them that Winnie will make a perfect demonstration of the water's properties. Mae won't have it. She's not going to let him steal Winnie or reveal the secret. She swings the shotgun like a baseball bat and drops him.

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