The Midwife's Apprentice

by Karen Cushman

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What are three words that describe Beetle in The Midwife's Apprentice, with examples of the character's actions from the book to support the word choices?

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Beetle is resilient and resourceful.  As long as she could remember, she

"had lived on her own by what means she could - stealing an onion here or helping with the harvest there in exchange for a night on the stable floor".

Beetle uses whatever means she can to survive.  When she is found by the village woman in the beginning of the book, she is sleeping on a dung heap, because it gives her warmth (Chapter 1).

Beetle is diligent and hard-working.  As the midwife's apprentice, everyday she

"started the fire...swept the cottage's dirt floor, sprinkled it with water, and stamped it to keep it hard packed...she roasted the bacon and washed up the mugs and knives and sprinkled fleabane about to keep the fleas down...she dusted the shelves packed with the afternoon Beetle left the village for the woods, where she gathered honey, trapped birds, and collected herbs..."

When the midwife is called to deliver a baby, Beetle goes with her, carrying and running and fetching materials, and cleaning up after the birth has taken place (Chapter 3).

Beetle is fearless.  She is unafraid of things the rest of the villagers fear, because she

"had slept alone outside in the dark for most of her years...(she) had nothing to fear from the was she, then, who was sent to fetch and carry and deliver messages after dark, while the villagers stayed in their smoky cottages" (Chapter 7).

Most of all, Beetle is observant and intelligent.  While on her nightly errands, she watches and learns all about the villagers' secret lives, and is able then to enact a brilliantly orchestrated series of events to exact a measure of revenge from those who have treated her the worst.  And, by working with the midwife, and learning all she can about her trade by watching what she does, Beetle manages to become quite a skilled midwife in her own right.

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