What crime does Despereaux commit that he is not caught for?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hello! What an interesting twist on a question most people ask. Kate Dicamillo has weaved for her readers a fantastic and wonderful tale about treachery, courage, and love. In the mouse world, consorting with a human is a crime punishable by exile to the dreaded dungeon. So, what is so scary about the dungeon in The Tale Of Despereaux? Large, hungry rats live there waiting for poor defenseless mice to devour, for one thing. So, when Despereaux is caught by his brother, Furlough, sitting at the foot of the king and letting the princess touch the top of his head, Despereaux finds himself before the Mouse Council. The council proclaims that

A mouse who consorts with humans, a mouse who would sit right at the foot of a man, a mouse who would allow a human to touch him...cannot be trusted.

Despereaux's crime lands him in the dungeon because he refuses to conform to the conduct expected of a mouse. However, in the Fourth Section, titled Recalled To The Light, Despereaux again commits the "crime" of consorting with humans. He goes before the king to tell him that his missing daughter is actually in the dungeon. The king calls Despereaux a liar; he is adamant that all "rodents are liars and thieves," and that his daughter cannot be in the dungeon because his men have already searched the dungeon. Despereaux tells him that there are a "thousand places where she could be hidden, and only the rats would know." Yet the king refuses to believe him even though poor Despereaux is telling the truth.

At this most desperate moment, Despereaux remembers the knight in shining armor in the dreams he has had: he realizes that he is the knight, and if any saving is to be done, it will be up to him. Even though he commits the "crime" of appearing before a human again, he is not caught by the mouse council this time.

Much later, he also chances upon the cook of the castle, who is making soup, a crime in the Kingdom of Dor. Soup had been outlawed in the kingdom since the death of the queen, Princess Pea's mother. Indeed, measured by the laws of their respective worlds, both Cook and Despereaux have committed crimes punishable by death or imprisonment in the castle dungeon. So, how do Cook and Despereaux prevent themselves from being caught or discovered? The book tells us:

"Look, mouse, these are extraordinary times. And because of that, we must have some peace between us. I will not ask what you are doing in my kitchen. And you, in return, will tell no one what I am cooking."

Thanks for the question. I hope this answers your question adequately.