Use this synopsis of the main themes of Tuck Everlasting as a useful student study guide, a time-saving teacher resource, or a helpful homework aid for parents.
Winnie Foster is the pampered, protected only child of the Fosters: land proud, one of Treegap’s first families. She goes exploring in the family woods and spies a handsome young man, Jesse Tuck, sipping water from a woodland spring. This simple event leads to kidnapping, extortion, murder, and a jail break. Now, let’s discover the rest of the story.
Meet the Tucks
The Tucks of Treegap are an unusual family because they never grow old. Mae, Angus, Miles, Jesse Tuck and the family horse drank from a spring in the woods when they arrived in town 87 years ago. The cat, which did not drink the water, ages and dies but the Tucks remain the same.
Mae, Jesse, and brother Miles kidnap Winnie. They tell her their incredible story and convince her to keep their secret. The only hitch to this plan is the mysterious man in the yellow suit, who hears the whole story while in hiding.
Tuck Everlasting Plot
The man in the yellow suit follows the Tucks and Winnie to their home, then steals the horse and rides to Winnie’s house. He bargains with her family for title to the woods in exchange for information about their daughter’s whereabouts.
Winnie moves emotionally from excitement to fear to empathy as the story progresses. She is becoming fond of 17-year old Jesse, and he talks of marrying her. He gives her a vial of spring water to drink on her seventeenth birthday so they can be together forever. Winnie uses the water to save her toad and gives up her chance at immortality.
During the group’s breakfast, there is a knock on the door. The man in the yellow suit confronts them about kidnapping Winnie. He tells them the spring is now his property, offering to include them in his plans to market and sell the water to those who can afford it.
Mae Tuck’s Crime
When the man in the yellow suit tries to take Winnie by force, Mae hits him with a shotgun. The constable, who sees the event, arrests her. The remaining Tucks must rescue Mae – she cannot be executed, as she cannot die – and the act of trying to hang her will expose the truth and the family secret.
They plot a jail break, and Winnie agrees to take Mae’s place to buy them time to escape. The plan works; Mae is set free and the Tucks disappear. When Mae and Angus return years later, they find Winnie’s tombstone and realize the only other person who knows their secret is dead. The secret is safe.
This summary includes the main points of Tuck Everlasting. For complete details, find a copy and read it yourself, or read it aloud to friends or family. See the series below for guided discussion questions for this story.
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This post is part of the series: English Literature Lesson Plans Tuck Everlasting Unit
Here is a series of lesson plans for the novel Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. Study questions and answers, character sketches, and a book summary are included.