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The Bildungsroman of Winnie Foster


by Elisha Koh

  • [1]”… they sensed that she was different now from what she had been before.” In what ways does Winnie change in the course of the novel, and in your opinion are the changes for good or for bad?

In this essay, I will be following and also discussing the situations that quickly unfolded before Winnie Foster, one by one. First, a brief introduction. Winnie Foster was a lonely ten-year-old girl. She was tired of being cooped up in her house, tired of being nagged at by her relatives every day, and tired of being fussed about all day long by her parents and being sheltered from the outside world too much. She was so tired of it to the point where she wanted to leave home. However, in the end, she did not execute her plan. By the end of the story, she had become a girl with wisdom beyond her age, had been well exposed to the outside world and its cruelty, developed with this ‘experience’, and had good character traits such as initiative, selflessness, and maturity way beyond her age.

During her stay at the Tucks’ residence, a man in a yellow suit who knew about the spring attempted to take Winnie away by force, or ‘attempted kidnapping in broad daylight’. During that attempted kidnapping, Mae Tuck lost her cool and swung an old shotgun at the guy and killed him with that blow. Following that, the county sheriff jailed her. When Mae Tuck was sentenced to hang for murder, the other Tucks quickly put together a plan to free her. When the Tucks succeeded in getting Mae out, Winnie made a decision and decided to go in and take Mae’s place inside the jailhouse so that the Tuck’s would have ample time to get away and put as much distance as they could between them and the jailhouse.

What does Winnie’s decision of taking Mae’s place show? Firstly, it shows that she has maturity. This character trait made her stop and think about others before her own self. One factor affecting this decision would be that nobody in the right mind would go and take someone else’s place in a jailhouse. Another factor would be that once she was out, everyone would know that she had helped criminals.

Winnie, at the end of the story, was given a bottle of water from the special spring by Jesse Tuck, meant for her to drink when she was seventeen. However, she decided to empty the whole bottle on a toad and live a natural life. This action shows that her maturity had grown tremendously. She is only ten years old, and most ten-year-olds would listen to what people say and be tempted by its attractiveness. The maturity involved in the decision making needed in this situation would be phenomenal, as a person making the decision would have to go through a ‘list’ of questions such as:” How will this decision affect me on the whole?”, “If I drink the water, what will happen if I live forever?”, “Is living forever such a great idea?” that is why I conclude this action of hers as one that exposed her level of maturity as 20/10 for ten-year-olds because I believe that even some ADULTS would not be able to make this crucial decision. This shows that she had the ability to think before making a decision, and to weigh the consequences, and to respond correctly.

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