Tuck Everlasting

Tuck Everlasting Literary Elements



Setting and Context

In the first week of August in a rural town in the late 1800s

Narrator and Point of View

The novel is narrated from a third-person perspective, but follows the experiences of each character.

Tone and Mood

The tone of the novel is generally light. However, the author makes extensive use of foreshadowing when she discusses the secret of the Tucks.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist is Winnie Foster. The protagonist is the man in the yellow suit.

Major Conflict

The primary conflict is the Tucks' goal to keep the secret of their immortality hidden from the outside world.


The climax comes when Winnie helps the Tucks rescue Mae from prison. If they fail, Mae will be hanged and the whole world will know the secret of the Tucks. Additionally, this event marks the moment that Winnie takes responsibility for caring for others.


"These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after." (p. 3)

This quote appears in the first page of the book, when the author is describing the scenery of Treegap in August. The suggestion that people will "do things they are sure to be sorry for after" hints at Winnie's discovery of the secret of the Tucks, as well as the arrival of the man in the yellow coat.


When Mae is taken into custody by the constable and Winnie tells her that everything will be okay


The novel contains an allusion to the poem "To Althea, from Prison" written by Richard Lovelace. "Stone walls do not a prison make/nor iron bars a cage" (p. 123). The poem was written in 1642, during Lovelace's time in prison for supporting an unpopular political position, and was likely addressed to his lover. The poem suggests that true imprisonment comes from ignoring one's true values and by giving up love. Moreover, the poem suggests that innocent people who are imprisoned unjustly can expect to find true freedom.


See imagery section.


"Stone walls do not a prison make/Nor iron bars a cage." (p. 123)

This is a paradoxical statement because all prisons have stone walls and bars, yet people can also feel trapped even when they are not in prison.


According to some scholars such as Catherine Lynch, Winnie's journey to understand and accept death as a prerequisite to adulthood parallels other stories about children's coming-of-age such as the tale of Peter Pan.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

"Jess was like water, thin and quick." (p. 8)

Jesse is a young teenager who is slender and has a great deal of energy. By comparing him to water, Winnie connects him with a life-giving vital force, suggesting metonymy.


"And then it went on again and came at last to the wood. But on reaching the shadows of the first trees, it veered sharply, swung out in a wide arc as if, for the first time, it had reason to think where it was going, and passed around." (p. 5)

This quote refers to the road near Treegap, which abruptly turns near the forest. This quote suggests that the road seems to be aware of the secret within those woods, making this an example of personification.