Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Immortal Cullen & Tuck Families

It was back in sixth grade that my class read Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt--we also watched the movie version and talked in typical fashion about the changes. Now, back in sixth grade, I couldn't quite fawn over the ending to this story. (Now shall commence a plot summary.) The character, Winnie Foster, meets the Tuck family, who are all immortal from drinking water from a certain spring. Naturally, she and the younger son, Jesse, fall for each other; when the Tucks leave, Jesse gives her some of the water so that, if she chooses, she can drink it in three years when she is his age and come find them. But she doesn't: the Tuck parents come by years later and find her gravestone, which says that she lived a long and happy life and got married and had children. "Good girl" is, I believe, what the father says about her, though with sadness because they'll have to tell Jesse.

The idea is that Winnie chose to live a natural life, right? That's difficult for a romantic to come to terms with; my sixth grade self couldn't.

But are you reminded of another story that ends in the opposite way? Twilight is very similar--in certain ways. Bella meets the immortal Cullen family, falls in mutual love with the youngest son, and eventually has the opportunity to share in that immortality. Is this spitting on Tuck Everlasting's message (not directly, I mean)?

Maybe. But you know I can never see things that simply, so here is what I see instead.

The Tuck family could have been almost like a dream in terms of their effect on Winnie; she lived with them and learned from them and loved them, but they were apart from the rest of her life. Once she had grown through her time with them (a little Alice in Wonderland-like, maybe?), it was time for her to throw out that immortal water, smile, and live her life. For Bella, on the other hand, the Cullens do represent what her life is becoming. She is at that point in her life where change must come: as the teenage years transition from living with parents to living independently in one's self, few things stay the same. So Bella's adoption into that family is her adoption into the new stage of her life, the one she had always been meant for. All the Renesmee/motherhood stuff is the proof that she, unlike Winnie would have if she had gone with Jesse, was living a full life.

For Twilight to actually be the polar opposite of Tuck Everlasting, it would have to be a fantasy. But does it really have a fantasy ending? Take away the labels (vampire, immortal, etc.) and it's just a love story: girl and guy from different backgrounds meet, fall in love, have complications in their relationship, get married, start a family. Though we don't hear that story, isn't that exactly what happened to Winnie?

Winnie did die, though, unlike Bella, who likely won't. But Winnie would have been immortal by an abnormality--the spring's water isn't presented positively. Contrarily, the vampires of Twilight are just a part of nature, another way for "people" to exist.

Oh, and one more thing: don't take this post too seriously. I fear I may have either complicated the matter too much or completely ignored the message of Tuck Everlasting. But it's an interesting comparison, right?

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