We come, at last, to the end of this tale

But the question you want answered, I know, is did they live happily ever after?

Yes . . . and no.

What of Roscuro? Did he live happily ever after? Well . . . the Princess Pea gave him free access to the upstairs of the castle. And he was allowed to go back and forth from the darkness of the dungeon to the light of the upstairs. But, alas, he never really belonged in either place, the sad fate, I am afraid, of those whose hearts break and then mend in crooked ways. But the rat, in seeking forgiveness, did manage to shed some small light, some happiness into another life.

How?

Roscuro, reader, told the princess about the prisoner who had once owned a red tablecloth, and the princess saw to it that the prisoner was released. And Roscuro led the man up out of the dungeon and to his daughter, Miggery Sow. Mig, as you might have guessed, did not get to be a princess. But her father, to atone for what he had done, treated her like one for the rest of his days.

I mainly remember this book for its bittersweet ending, but it’s really only Roscuro’s fate that’s sad. I love the ending for Mig – if it’s not quite what she dreamed of, it’s still good to see her get some of the happiness that was denied her as a child.

While it’s good that Roscuro found a way to give light in his own way, and it would be unrealistic to suddenly make the dungeon a place of light, what really bugs me is that he’s singled out as the only one who gets a sad ending, not, allegedly, because he’s a rat, but because his heart mended wrong. This is presented as a permanent impediment to his happiness, when he only broke his heart in the first place because of the actions of the royal family, and only failed to mend it properly because he had no emotional support from the people who raised/mentored him. What attachment does he even have to the dungeon in the end? Botticelli would have gladly seen him killed, and he was clearly never strongly attached to his parents, either. I would have loved to see him find more meaning in helping people like Mig’s father, if nothing else. If he never felt welcome upstairs, that’s on the humans, not him.

And what of Despereaux? Did he live happily ever after? Well, he did not marry the princess, if that is what you mean by happily ever after. Even in a world as strange as this one, a mouse and a princess cannot marry.

But, reader, they can be friends.

And they were. Together, they had many adventures. Those adventures, however, are another story, and this story, I’m afraid, must now draw to a close.

I’d like to think that Roscuro joined them on at least a few of those adventures, because, hey, rats are at least good at fighting.

But before you leave, reader, imagine this: Imagine an adoring king and a glowing princess, a serving girl with a crown on her head and a rat with a spoon on his, all gathered around a table in a banquet hall. In the middle of the table, there is a great kettle of soup. Sitting in the place of honor, right next to the princess, is a very small mouse with big ears.

And peeking out from behind a dusty velvet curtain, looking in amazement at the scene before them, are four other mice.

“Mon Dieu, look, look,” says Antoinette. “He lives, he lives! And he seems such the happy mouse.”

“Forgiven,” whispers Lester.

It was important for us to check in with Despereaux’s friends and family before the end, just to show that they’re happy for him in his new life with the humans, despite their past disagreements.

“Just so,” says the threadmaster Hovis, smiling, “just so.”

Just a brief note about the blog: I’ll be taking a brief hiatus, as this post conveniently (or inconveniently) coincides with the beginning of the end of the semester. I’ll be back with a new series soon, possibly around mid-December (once finals are over), or at the latest I’ll be back to post the yearly List.

Until next time, dear readers…

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