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bnmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is one phrase Despereaux utters over and over again to the Princess Pea: "I honor you!" He first hears of this phrase when reading a massive book in the library about a knight who saves a fair princess. Once he meets the Princess Pea while investigating where the noise that sounds like "honey" is coming from, he immediately falls in love with her. She cups him in her delicate hand, which he suddenly realizes is breaking the foremost mouse rule against revealing oneself to a human, which causes him to run back to his hole in the wall. But as he is scurrying away, he turns back and says "I honor you" to the princess for the first time. There are many more times in the book when he uses this phrase; however, the most notable is at the end, when he has to show sacrificial honor to the princess to save her life from the rat Roscuro. He shouts "I honor you" to the princess as he takes his needle and prepares to fight to the death for her freedom in the deep darkness of the dungeon. In the end, through a change of heart in Roscuro, Despereaux, the Princess Pea, and many other of the book's characters are able to sit happily in the light of the banquet hall together. Of course, the princess and Despereaux do not get married in the end, but they do get to have many more wonderful adventures together. Therefore, Despereaux's phrase "I honor you" is central in the book, as throughout the story he shows sacrificial honor to the princess by risking his life to save hers.