The wheel is a frequent motif in the book. In the beginning, the author describes the characters as being like spokes in a wheel. In the middle, Tuck describes the cycle of birth and death on the pond as resembling a wheel. At the end, the immortal toad that Winnie gave the spring water to narrowly avoids being crushed by the wheel of the Tuck's cart.
The wheel symbolizes the cycle of life, which is always moving and never stops. Just like a wheel rolls up, people and animals are born, and just like a wheel rolls down, they eventually die. Yet the turning of a wheel isn't cause for mourning or sadness, because all wheels eventually turn to where they were before. Only the Tucks are removed from this cycle because of their immortality.
The Toad (Motif)
The toad symbolizes Winnie's freedom and maturity. Early in the novel, Winnie discussed her desire for independence and freedom with the toad, and eventually decided to run away.
At the end of the novel, Winnie poured the spring water on the toad in order to keep it free from harm and safe forever. This act of generosity allowed Winnie to symbolically keep part of herself alive while also enjoying a normal life.
The Pond (Symbol)
The pond that Tuck took Winnie to resembled the cycle of life, which the Tucks are removed from. The pond's water travels from river to ocean to cloud to rain then back again, symbolizing the cycles of birth and death. It is also home to many animals that grow, reproduce, and die. Tuck takes Winnie to this place to explain that his immortality has removed him from these beautiful natural cycles, and that she must not make the same mistake.
Music Box (Symbol)
Mae's music box is a symbol of the Tuck's humanity and goodness. It is described as the only beautiful thing that Mae owns, and she uses it to soothe Winnie after the girl grows frightened when the Tucks "kidnap" her. Other people know that the music box is a sign of the Tucks, even if they aren't quite sure what it means. For example, Winnie's grandmother refers to it as elf music, and the grandmother of the man in the yellow suit knew that the melody was associated with an immortal family.
The music box is always described as beautiful and good, and it is a major part of the Tuck family legend as well as their influence on other people.
Winnie's Choice (Allegory)
At the end of the novel, Winnie chooses to pour the spring water on the toad rather than drinking it herself after her seventeenth birthday. She has decided she wants to protect the toad, which is being harassed by a dog, more than she wants to preserve herself. This shows that she is exercising compassion, and also that she has chosen to take Tuck's words to heart and to live a life that is not disconnected from the cycles of nature.
Though most people do not have to choose whether or not to drink from a magical spring, everyone must make decisions about what kind of life they are going to lead, and these decisions must be made freely and then fully accepted. Winnie lives a long and full life without drinking the spring water, offering inspiration to ordinary people who also must make hard choices in life.
Tuck Everlasting Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Tuck Everlasting is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
A "touch me not" appearance infers something perfect.... something you do not want to soil. In context, it means the house is different from others, especially the Tuck's home, which is described as messy and lived in.