The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane: Characters & Setting

Instructor: Erica Schimmel

Erica has taught college English writing and literature courses and has a master's degree in children's literature.

Edward Tulane may only be a china rabbit, but you would never know it by his adventures. Over the course of his story, he travels with some truly memorable characters. In this lesson, we will meet a few of those characters and discuss the setting of Kate DiCamillo's ''The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane''.

Who is Edward Tulane?

When you were little, did you have a stuffed animal or other toy you were attached to? Edward Tulane is just that kind of beloved toy in Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. The problem is that he does not know how to love back. Until, that is, an accident carries him far away from his owner and begins a sequence of meetings and partings that teach Edward a great deal about life and love.

Unfortunately, Edward does not learn his lessons easily or quickly. It takes many years for Edward's journey to come full circle. Over the course of those years, he meets some important characters and sees many places. Let's meet some of those characters and then take a look at the stops along the way in Edward's journey.

Important Characters and their Surroundings

The main character in DiCamillo's novel, is a ''rabbit who was made almost entirely of china.'' Standing at nearly three feet tall, Edward Tulane believes he is an ''exceptional specimen'' of a rabbit, complete with fur, ears, tail and whiskers. As his story goes on, he encounters difficult environments and passes from owner to owner.

Abilene Tulane dearly loves Edward. Her grandmother Pellegrina ordered him as a gift for her seventh birthday, and she thinks ''almost as highly of Edward as Edward thought of himself.'' She carefully dresses him every day and tells him how much she loves him every night. Abilene is devastated when, shortly after her eleventh birthday, Edward is thrown overboard when her family is on a ship sailing to London. Years later, her daughter Maggie finds Edward in the doll mender's shop. Abilene has never forgotten her china rabbit and still wears his pocket watch as a necklace.

Nellie is the wife of Lawrence, the fisherman whose net rescues Edward from the bottom of the ocean after 290 days. Although Edward is at first ''horrified'' at Nellie's mistaking him for a girl and renaming him Susanna, he grows to enjoy his life with the older couple. Nellie enjoys baking, and while she bakes, she talks to Edward about her life. Unfortunately, Edward's peaceful time with Nellie is cut short when her daughter Lolly visits and takes Edward to the dump.

Fortunately, Edward is rescued from the dump after 180 days buried under garbage. He is sniffed out by Lucy, a dog who belongs to Bull. Bull is a hobo, and together, the three of them ''were always on the move.'' Edward, renamed Malone by Bull, happily travels with the man and dog for nearly seven years, until one night, a guard throws him off of the train they are riding.

Bryce, a young boy whose ''eyes were brown with flecks of gold shining in them'', saves Edward from being a scarecrow and brings him as a gift for his younger sister, Sarah Ruth. Sarah Ruth is ''maybe four years old'' with white-blond hair and eyes like her brother's. She calls Edward Jangles. Bryce is dedicated to his younger sister. Their father shows up every once in a while, but it is Bryce who takes care of Sarah Ruth. Though Edward quickly loves the sweet little girl, she is very sick. He has been there only just over six months when ''on a bright morning in September, Sarah Ruth stopped breathing.''

After an encounter with a cook leaves Edward's head broken in 21 pieces, Bryce brings him to the doll mender, Lucius. The mender agrees to fix Edward, but only if the boy gives him the doll. Bryce agrees because he just wants the rabbit to be whole again. Lucius has a strong appreciation for Edward, who he believes is a work of art ''exceedingly well-made.'' Lucius is a business man who is proud of his skills at doll restoration. He knows he can make Edward beautiful again, and that someday he will ''reap the return on my investment.'' He can be patient until that day.

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