Study Guide

Grimms' Fairy Tales Tales 201-210

By Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Tales 201-210

Tale 201: Saint Joseph in the Forest

  • This tale kicks off the Religious Tales for Children section. If you guessed that these tales contain super-obvious morals about how pious children should act, you'd be correct.
  • A mother has three daughters, but she loathes the youngest one, who is also the most pious. She frequently sends the youngest one into the forest, hoping she'll get lost and never come back. One day, the youngest finds her way to a cottage, where an old man (who is actually Saint Joseph) lets her stay the night.
  • She gives him practically all of her food because she's so stinkin' pious and lets him sleep on the single bed. When she leaves, there's a large sack of money for her, which she gives to her mother. Strangely (or maybe not so strangely), the mother hates her less. 
  • The second daughter, who is not quite as pious as the youngest, is sent into the forest. She stumbles upon the same cottage, and is decently kind to Saint Joseph, but not as selfless as the first. She's rewarded with a small sack of money, which she also gives to the mother (keeping a few coins for herself).
  • When the oldest daughter goes into the forest, she is completely selfish and not at all kind to Saint Joseph. He rewards her with an extra nose on top of her own. She cries and begs until he takes it away. 
  • Then she lies to her mother, saying that she did get some money but it was left in the forest. The mother takes her to look for it, but snakes and lizards attack them. The girl is stung to death, while the mother is stung all over her feet as a punishment for raising such a bad daughter.

Tale 202: The Twelve Apostles

  • In 300 BCE, a mother has twelve sons that she can't care for because she's way broke. 
  • The oldest, Peter, wanders to seek his fortune. He knows that the Savior will be born in 300 years and wants to find a way to meet him. 
  • Luckily an angel guides him to a cave where he and his brothers can sleep in golden cradles until Christ walks the earth. 
  • Three cheers for suspended animation.

Tale 203: The Rose

  • The youngest child of a very poor mother is sent out to gather wood. 
  • A small, beautiful child always appears to help the kid gather wood, but the mother doesn't believe this until the kid shows up with a rose that is supposed to bloom when the beautiful child comes to visit. 
  • They put the bud in water but it doesn't bloom until the kid dies soon after. However, the kid looks happy in death. We're guessing the beautiful child is a representation of God or of Death or some religious figure. We're guessing.

Tale 204: Poverty and Humility Lead to Heaven

  • A melancholy prince asks an old man how he can get to heaven. The old man tells him to wander in rags, pray, and only accept bread that is given to him. 
  • The prince does this, and when he returns to his own kingdom, nobody recognizes him. 
  • He gets weak and dies, with a rose and lily in each hand, and we guess this means he got to go to heaven after all, so all's well that ends well?

Tale 205: God's Food

  • There are two sisters: one is rich and has no kids, the other is poor with five little ones. 
  • The poor one asks the rich one for some food, but the rich one is heartless and she turns her down, which never bodes well for anyone in a fairy tale. 
  • When the rich woman's husband goes to cut a loaf of bread, blood gushes out (ew). 
  • The rich sister figures out that something is wrong and rushes to her sister's house, only to find that three of the kids are already dead. 
  • The poor sister turns down her offer of food, saying they no longer desire earthly food. The two remaining kids die, followed by their mother.

Tale 206: The Three Green Twigs

  • A hermit is super-pious but even he manages to call down God's judgment upon him when he looks at a guy about to be hung and thinks that he deserves it. 
  • An angel appears and tells the hermit to do penance and carry a dry branch until three green twigs sprout from it. 
  • He manages to convert some robbers to Christianity, but dies right after. The branch bears twigs by his corpse so apparently his penance was accepted.

Tale 207: The Blessed Virgin's Little Glass

  • A man's cart gets stuck. 
  • The Blessed Virgin appears and says she'll help him if he gives her some wine, since she's thirsty (good to know even religious figures like a drink now and again). 
  • The man agrees but says he doesn't have any glasses. 
  • The Blessed Virgin plucks a flower, which the man fills with wine. 
  • She moves the cart, and from then on that particular flower is called the Blessed Virgin's Little Glass.

Tale 208: The Little Old Lady

  • An old woman is sad because pretty much everyone in her life has died. 
  • She's particularly bummed about her sons, who died young. 
  • She has a vision, however, in which God reveals to her that if they'd lived their lives would have turned out horrible, so she thanks God for his kindness, dies peacefully, and presumably heads on up to heaven.

Tale 209: The Heavenly Wedding

  • A boy overhears a priest saying that anyone who wants to enter heaven has to walk a straight path. 
  • The boy walks a straight line until he reaches a church that is so holy, he thinks he's in heaven.
  • The priests let him stay, and he always feeds some of his bread to the icons of Christ and the Virgin Mary. 
  • The icons talk to him and tell him he can attend the wedding. By this they mean communion. After taking communion, the boy drops dead and goes to the "eternal wedding," meaning heaven. Bonus.

Tale 210: The Hazel Branch

  • The Virgin Mary goes to gather some strawberries while the Christ Child sleeps. A viper springs out and surprises her, but she hides behind a hazel tree, and goes back for the berries later. 
  • From then on, hazel branches have been used as protection against all sorts of reptiles. 
  • We wish we'd known about that on the last Shmoop Safari.