In Tuck Everlasting, how is Winnie treated differently when she returns home from the way she was treated before she left?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Winnie's family micromanages Winnie.  They don't necessarily control everything that she does, but her parents and grandmother are constantly around telling Winnie what she should and should not do.  Colleagues of mine call those kinds of parents "helicopter parents," because they are always hovering over their children.  The constant oversight from Winnie's family is the number one reason why she wants to run away.  

"Come in now, Winnie. Right away. You'll get heat stroke out there on a day like this. And your lunch is ready."

"See?" said Winnie to the toad. "That's just what I mean. It's like that every minute. If I had a sister or a brother, there'd be someone else for them to watch. But, as it is, there's only me. I'm tired of being looked at all the time. . . I'll never be able to do anything important if I stay in here like this. I expect I'd better run away." 

After Winnie returns home from being with the Tucks, Winnie's family is relieved and excited by her return.  In fact, their response is completely normal.  Lots of hugs and excitement.  After all they did think that she had been kidnapped.  

They had seized her at once, flinging the gate open and swooping down on her, her mother weeping, her father speechless, hugging her to him, her grandmother babbling with excitement.

However, it doesn't take the family long to realize that Winnie is somehow different.   

. . . they sensed that she was different now from what she had been before. As if some part of her had slipped away.

Consequently, Winnie's family treats her differently.  They don't try to order her about as much.  In fact, it seems almost like her family is uncomfortable around Winnie.  They don't converse with her the same way as before and even sort of avoid confronting her in any way.  

But they peered at her anxiously over their shoulders as they tiptoed out of her bedroom. . . 

This odd treatment continues into the next day.  In the opening chapters, Winnie was ordered inside because it was too hot.  However, the day after she returns is even hotter, but nobody wants to order Winnie inside anymore.  They leave the decision up to Winnie. 

"I never saw such heat in all my life," said Winnie's grandmother, dabbing uselessly at her neck with a handkerchief. "Don't stay out here much longer."

"I won't," said Winnie, and was left alone once more.