The Tale of Despereaux

by Kate DiCamillo

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Explain the disloyalty of Furlough in The Tale of Despereaux.

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Furlough and Despereaux are mouse brothers who live in a strict mouse community. Furlough betrays Despereaux at the start of the story. Despereaux loves to read and is particularly engrossed with a story about a knight and princess. He hears music and follows it to the feet of Princess Pea and King Philip. Despereaux boldly starts talking to the Princess and quickly falls in love. Furlough watches and tells their father, Lester Tilling. This is the moment of disloyalty; Despereaux feels betrayed by his brother and is angered that he would turn him in. Their father reports the crime to the mouse council and Furlough is sent to retrieve his brother. Despereaux is sentenced to the dungeon for his crime of talking to humans. Furlough and Despereaux are opposites: Furlough has an appreciation for rule and order, whereas Despereaux is a risk taker and explorer.

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The disloyalty of Furlough refers to his telling on his brother, the literature-loving mouse Despereaux. Despereaux, after having read a story about a Princess and a knight, has followed sweet music to the court of King Philip and Princess Pea. Here he speaks to Princess Pea, with whom he has now fallen in love, despite this action being in violation of mouse law. Furlough tells their father, Lester Tilling, about this infraction and gets Despereaux in trouble. In the meantime, King Philip had Despereaux led away because mice are kin to rats which are outlawed in his kingdom.

The two mouse brothers's father, Lester, decides to call the council of mice, and Furlough leaves to collect his brother for judgment. The council sentences Despereaux to be confined in prison for his violation of the law. Despereaux, however, manages to escape with the help of the jailer whom he has regaled with a story.

Furlough was disloyal to his brother but loyal to the law of the mice, which raises an ethical dilemma.

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