Spinners Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 21 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Spinners.
This section contains 837 words
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Spinners Summary & Study Guide Description

Spinners Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli.

Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli and Richard Tchen is a new take on the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin. In this novel, a young man falls in love with a beautiful girl, but her father does not think a tailor can provide as well for his daughter as a miller. The young man insists that he can and is given the chance to prove himself by creating a dress of gold for his beloved. To do this, the young man works night and day spinning straw into gold, but at a price. In the end, the young woman chooses the miller over the tailor, then dies giving birth to the tailor's daughter. Years later, the man learns that his daughter has become a celebrated spinner but that her father has boasted to the king, causing the young girl's life to be placed in danger. The tailor saves his daughter, but at a price that will lead to ultimate disaster. Spinners is a fascinating retelling of a story that gives motive to the actions of a dark and misunderstood character.

The young tailor has finally found his love for a young maiden returned. They spend several afternoons enjoying their new love before the tailor finally asks for the maiden's hand in marriage from her father. However, the tailor learns that the miller has also asked for the maiden's hand and the father is considering this request because of the future the miller can give his child. To win the father's favor, the young tailor promises to create a wedding dress of gold for his young love. Unfortunately, the tailor does not have the money he needs to buy the gold thread required. Instead, the young tailor steals a spinning wheel from an old woman and spins straw into gold. However, the work causes the young tailor's leg to cramp, leaving it permanently drawn up against his hip.

The young maiden loves her dress, but she will not marry the tailor while he is crippled. The young tailor begs her to wait a few months, but the young woman is pregnant and cannot wait. In the end, the young woman marries the miller. The tailor pays the young man working at the mill for information on the young woman, learning when her time to give birth comes near. When the tailor is sure the young woman is to give birth, he arranges to meet her in secret. The young woman is disgusted by the man who was once her lover, due to the twisting that has taken place in his damaged body. The man gives the woman the ring he intended to give her on their wedding day and is rewarded when the young woman calls him a cruel, made up name. A short time later, the woman dies in childbirth.

The tailor leaves the village, going from home to home where he exchanges room and board for custom made clothing. At the same time, the tailor's daughter grows alone in the home of her father, the miller. Once, while the miller is drunk, the daughter cuts his hair and shaves his beard in hopes that he will gain the affections of a single woman in town. Instead, the miller becomes ashamed of his look and takes to his bed for many months. The mill shuts down and the girl is forced to find a way to survive on her own. The girl begins spinning threads for her friend's mother, helping her sell the yarn in the market. In time the girl becomes an expert spinner, creating yarns that are unique and high in demand.

The tailor has returned to the village and given shelter in a deserted cabin in the mountains by a servant of the king in exchange for him spinning the king's yarns. When the tailor learns of this girl who is creating such unique yarns, the tailor asks the king's servant to exchange his spinning wheel with hers. In time, the king learns of the girl's yarns and has her come to the castle. The miller boasts that his daughter can spin straw into gold. The king shuts her in a room and tells her if she does not make gold he will kill her. The tailor comes to her aid, spinning straw into gold three times for her in exchange for two pieces of her mother's jewelry and her first born child.

The young girl marries the king soon afterward, but is afraid to become pregnant. When her first child is born, the tailor comes to her and asks for the child. When the queen refuses, the tailor gives her three chances to guess the made up name her mother gave him sixteen years before. The queen is successful on the final day thanks to the king's spies, but she has also guessed that this twisted man is her father. Too late, the man rushes away in a rage, leaving behind the twisted leg that cheated him of his family so many years before.

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