Andersen's Fairy Tales Tales 31-40 Summary
Tale 31: The Darning Needle
- A darning needle complains about being used roughly by the fingers that grab her to sew things with. Then she breaks and is stuck together with wax. She gets washed down the drain and ends up in the gutter. Some street urchins play with her and stick her in an egg. She's pretty snooty the whole time, so we guess she deserves it?
Tale 32: The Bell
- In a village, everyone can hear the sounds of a mysterious bell. People search the forest, but no one knows where it comes from. Finally some kids are wandering around, and a prince and a poor boy get particularly serious about The Great Bell Search. They wind up realizing that all of nature is a great cathedral. Because that's how God rolls.
Tale 33: Grandmother
- Grandmother is old, and likes to look at a rose she keeps in her hymnbook because it makes the past come alive again. She dies, and a rose tree is planted over her grave. The preserved rose and Grandmother both turn to dust but our memories of them remain. Just like real life or something.
Tale 34: The Hill of the Elves
- A Norwegian troll king comes to the hill of the elves to find wives for his two sons. But the sons have bad manners, and the troll king decides to take one of the elf king's seven daughters for his own wife. They all have various talents, but she's the best storyteller. And who doesn't want a spouse who can keep them entertained?
Tale 35: The Red Shoes
- A poor girl named Karen is orphaned when her mother dies. A shoemaker takes pity on her and makes her some red shoes, which she loves because they seem so fancy, and because (she believes) they get a rich old lady to notice her.
- The rich old lady takes Karen in and throws away her now ratty red shoes. When it's time for Karen's confirmation in the church, the old lady buys her new shoes, which are also red. This is just a coincidence; the old lady's eyesight is going, so she can't actually tell what color they are.
- Karen wears the new red shoes to the confirmation, but she's so busy thinking about how pretty she looks in her red shoes that she doesn't pay any attention to what the bishop says. The old lady hears about how Karen was wearing red shoes, and scolds her. Apparently it's improper to wear red shoes to church.
- Still, Karen wears her red shoes the next time they go to church. Outside the door, an old soldier praises her pretty shoes, calling them dancing shoes. As soon as they leave the church, the old soldier again remarks on her pretty little dancing shoes—and Karen starts dancing uncontrollably.
- She dances through the woods, until she reaches a church. An angel appears to her saying that she will dance until she dies, and she will visit all the houses so that children will be terrified of her fate. Keep those dancin' feet still, all you Dance Dance Revolution fanatics.
- But wait! Karen dances until she reaches the house of the executioner, whom she begs to chop off her feet. He does. She repents of her sins, works for a minister, and prays to be able to enter a church again (because every time she tries, the shoes appear and block her way). God sends a vision of church to her, and she's so happy that she dies and goes to heaven.
Tale 36: The Jumping Competition
- A flea, a grasshopper, and a jumping jack (which is apparently some kind of toy made from wood and rubber bands?) hold a contest to see who can jump highest. The king promises his daughter to the winner. The jumping jack wins, and the other two are disgruntled.
Tale 37: The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep
- A porcelain shepherdess and chimney sweep flee their home when the shepherdess is to be given in marriage to a goat-legged statue. Once they get outside, the shepherdess chickens out and wants to go back. Her grandfather, a porcelain Chinese mandarin, had fallen and broken his neck, so that even after being repaired, he can't nod his head to consent to her marriage to the goat-legged dude. So the shepherdess and the chimney sweep get to stay together. Yay!
Tale 38: Holger the Dane
- Inside an old castle in Denmark, a dude named Holger the Dane sleeps. He dreams about the state of Denmark, and if things get bad for the Danes, he'll wake up, grab his sword, and come to the country's defense. An old grandfather dreams about various historical Danish figures, and talks about Holger the Dane with his family, and about how there's more than one kind of strength to be found in Danish heroes.
Tale 39: The Little Match Girl
- On New Year's Eve, a little girl wanders the streets barefoot, trying to sell matches. Both her shoes got lost so she's freezing in the snow. She doesn't want to go home without selling anything, because she's afraid that her father might beat her.
- She huddles up in an alley and lights a match to warm her hands. She has a vision of a warm stove in front of her.
- She lights a second match, and can see through the wall of the house she's next to. On the table are all kinds of delicious foods.
- She lights a third match, and envisions that she's sitting under a Christmas tree. Right then, she sees a shooting star, which her grandmother (who's dead) told her means that someone is dying.
- She strikes another match, and sees a vision of her grandmother. She keeps lighting matches in order to keep grandma close, and then her grandmother takes her and flies up to heaven.
- The girl's body is found the next morning. But if you've gotta die, dreaming of delicious goodies before joining your grandmother up in heaven isn't such a bad way to go.
Tale 40: From the Ramparts of the Citadel
- It's autumn, and we (the narrator plus someone) are standing on the ramparts of a citadel looking at the sea. A prisoner inside a cell in the citadel has a dark heart, which even the sunbeams cannot illuminate. A bird sings sweetly, and a hunter's horn can be heard. Nothing really happens in this story.
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