What is the irony in chapter 12 of Tuck Everlasting?

In chapter 12, Winnie and Tuck row through the pond and he talks to her about the cycle of life and death. He tells her that there is life all around them in nature itself and that the cycle is how it should be. The irony in the situation is that Winnie is learning about this natural process from Tuck, who is immortal.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter 12, Tuck and Winnie take a rowboat out onto the pond. Tuck points out insects moving along the surface of the water, and they hear the sounds of a bullfrog and a wood thrush singing. He tells her that the nature and movement around them is life.

Tuck teaches Winnie about how ocean water is taken back into the clouds by the sun and how it then rains and falls back down again into the stream. The cycle of water is part of a larger cycle of nature:

Everything's a wheel, turning and turning, never stopping. The frogs is part of it, and the bugs, and the fish, and the wood thrush... Always coming in new, always growing and changing, always moving on.

Tuck and his family no longer age and are thus unnatural. While everything around them is moving and changing in the wheel, they are no longer part of the wheel and are frozen in time. Winnie learns the cycle of nature from someone who is unnatural, making the situation ironic.

Tuck explains how she, too, is a part of this process and will one day become a woman and have children. He helps Winnie recognize her mortality:

Winnie blinked, and all at once her mind was drowned with understanding of what he was saying. For she—yes, even she—would go out of the world willy-nilly someday.

Winnie's realization adds to the previously established irony. As an immortal, Tuck not only teaches Winnie about the process of life and death, but how it relates to her. She learns of her place in the cycle from someone to which it does not apply to.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team