Study Guide

Earnest Boys in Andersen's Fairy Tales

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Earnest Boys

Andersen's stories are chock-full of boys who are honest and kind. The kinds of dudes you'd want to bring home to your mother or enjoy a long, meaningful chest bump with, you know? However, despite their goodness, these boys' fates are all over the map. Sometimes, awesome stuff happens to them. Sometimes, they just die. (Andersen sure is fond of killing off his main characters.) Sometimes both of these things happen, but the order is kinda debatable, since Andersen might argue that dying and going to heaven is the best possible thing that could happen to anyone ever!

Johannes from "The Traveling Companion" is a great example of the Really, Really, Good Guy. He keeps his father company on his deathbed, and then pays off some wicked dudes so that they'll let a dead man who owed them money rest in peace. Want a glimpse into Johannes's head? Here's what he thinks after his dad dies:

I will try always to be good… Then I, too, will go to heaven when I die and see my father again. I will have so much to tell him, and he will teach me about all the beautiful things in heaven, as he taught me about all that is beautiful here on earth. Oh, how wonderful it will be! (7.6)

Um, yeah. Sounds like a really awesome time.

But because Johannes is good and honest and faithful, he eventually nets a princess and gets to marry her. Then he ascends to the throne. Not a bad deal, huh? In any case, you get the picture: Andersen really likes to write about Good Guys and their really grand Goodness, which isn't really so bad, because we could all use to be just a bit more giving.

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