Natalie Babbitt discusses the complex topic of immortality in her novel, Tuck Everlasting.
Her main character, Winnie Foster, is a young girl who learns about the benefits and miseries of immortality through her friendship with the Tuck family. After they had imbibed from a queer spring, the Tucks became outcasts when they and their neighbors realized over a period of years that the spring had made the Tucks immortal. Forced to wander the world for fear of someone discovering their secret, the Tucks have no peace in their nomadic lifestyle. Consequently, they despise their involuntary immortality. Only Jesse, the youngest son in the family, enjoys immortality’s prospects. His parents and his older brother, Miles, have suffered deeply from the consequences of their fate. Miles lost his wife and children, while his parents have suffered from an irrepressible desire for change and a growing hatred for monotonous survival. The Man in the Yellow Suit is the antagonist who eventually threatens to reveal the Tucks’ secret and sell the spring’s fantastic properties. He is a fitting representative of all those who would use the gift of immortality for evil deeds.
The reader vicariously experiences the momentous choice given to Winnie as she inwardly struggles to choose between two different ways of life. The author presents opposite views about immortality’s effects and challenges the reader to ponder his/her own mortality. Tuck Everlasting is very poignant and very wise; it will forever change the reader by posing a controversial question: is death or life a curse?
Original review: The idea of immortality is debated in ‘Tuck Everlasting’, Examiner.com