Despereaux Tilling lived.

“No mouse, no matter how small or obscenely large-eared, is ever born with their eyes open. It simply isn’t done.”

“His pa, Lester, says he’s not well,” said Uncle Alfred.

Despereaux sneezed.

He said nothing in defense of himself. How could he? Everything his aunt and uncle said was true. He was ridiculously small. His ears were obscenely large. He had been born with his eyes open. And he was sickly. He coughed and sneezed so often that he carried a handkerchief in one paw at all times. He ran temperatures. He fainted at loud noises. Most alarming of all, he showed no interest in the things a mouse should show interest in.

I’m not gonna harp on the movie a lot, but I just have to mention that while Roscuro’s character is the most fundamentally different from the book version, Despereaux’s characterization is distinctly different, too. It mostly depicts him as too bold and brave, and that’s the main reason he doesn’t fit in – his personality didn’t align with the prevailing values of the mouse community.

Here instead, his personality seems to have been shaped to be different because his body is different and his parents never stood up for him publicly, or seemingly even supported him privately. They’re more concerned about him fitting in than him living a full and happy life – a situation which I’m sure many neurodivergent people could relate to.

“Do you hear that sweet, sweet sound?” he said.

“I hear the sound of cake crumbs falling out of people’s mouths and hitting the floor,” said his brother Toulèse. “That’s what I hear.”

“No. . . ,” said Despereaux. “It’s something else. It sounds like . . . um . . . honey.”

“You might have big ears,” said Toulèse, “but they’re not attached right to your brain. You don’t hear honey. You smell honey. When there’s honey to smell. Which there isn’t.”

[…] He was listening with his big ears, to the sweet sound that no other mouse could hear.

He’s able to sense things that other mice can’t, but since it’s not something the others value (like food), his capabilities are dismissed.

Next time: Once upon a time…

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