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Jesse Vs. Miles – What Kind of Person do You Want to be?


by Ian Tay

In the book “Tuck Everlasting,” there are two Tuck brothers named Jesse and Miles. They have everlasting life after drinking from a magical spring in a strange forest 87 years before the story. After drinking the water, they are frozen in time and cannot mature or grow, whether mentally or physically. Jesse and Miles were seventeen and twenty-two years old respectively when they drank the enchanted water so you can spot quite a few differences between the two.

One of the noticeable difference in character is that Jesse is the more cheerful and bubbly of the two, has a childlike innocence about him, and only thinks about enjoyment. He shows his innocence in chapter 6 when Miles was talking about the tragic loss of his wife and children. Once Miles finished, Jesse suddenly piped in and joked, “I’m glad I never got married.” He revealed his “life’s-to-enjoy” attitude when Miles told Winnie, the main character of the book, that drinking the magical spring water was not a good idea and Jesse shrugged and replied, “Oh, stuff. We might as well enjoy it, long as we can’t change it. You don’t have to be such a person all the time.”

Compared to Jesse, Miles is more serious, mature, and wants to do something important in his life. His seriousness is shown when Jesse stated that everlasting life is meant to be enjoyed and that Miles was being too much of a parson; Miles retorted, “I’m not being a parson. I just think that you ought to take it more seriously.”

Their attitudes toward everlasting life are different too. Jesse enjoys living forever as he feels that life is meant to be enjoyed, just as I stated earlier. He even told Winnie, the main character of the book, “But the thing is, you knowing about the water already, and living right next to it so’s you could go there any time, well, listen, how’d it be if you were to wait till you’re seventeen, same age as me–heck, that’s only six years off–and then you could go and drink some, and then you could go away with me! We could get married, even. That’d be pretty good, wouldn’t it! We could have a grand old time, go all around the world, see everything.” In saying this, we can infer from his words that he views Winnie as a playmate who can have fun with him for eternity. This is not a mature view of marriage! He later goes on to say, “Why, heck, life’s to enjoy yourself, isn’t it?”

However, Miles has a different view of living forever: he feels it is a curse. Why does he feel this way? Let me ask you a question. How will you feel if the people you love the most, your wife and children, left you because your wife thought that the reason you could live forever was that you sold your soul to the Devil? That was exactly the same thing that happened to Miles. He was brokenhearted when that happened and he often thought of and missed his wife and children. He could not bear the thought that his children would die and that he would still be young and alive. This tragedy led him to hate living forever. Even so, he still had a purpose in his life. He shows that by saying, “Someday, I’ll find a way to do something important.” and “And it’s no good just thinking of your own pleasure, either. People got to do something useful if they’re going to take up space in the world.” These words show that he at least has a purpose to keep him going while Jesse just lives life like day by day aimlessly.

Even so, if you ask me who would I prefer, I would say that I like Jesse better. His cheekiness and cheerfulness jump out at me when I read the book and I really appreciate these characteristics as some of them remind me of myself! I also find that I can relate to and identify with Jesse better and I also feel that life is partly meant to enjoy and maybe that is because he and I are only a few years apart in mental and psychological age. The reason I did not choose Miles was that although he is more mature and sensible, he is too grim and serious for my kind. Also, Jesse’s innocence and playfulness appeal to me as I have these traits too!

In conclusion, I feel that the experiences you go through really shape you and mold you into a different person. One fine example of this is the two Tuck brothers, Jesse and Miles. Although they have some similarities, their life experiences have shaped them into different people. Well, then, let me ask you: what kind of person do you want to be?

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