Study Guide

Andersen's Fairy Tales Tales 61-70

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Tales 61-70

Tale 61: The Swans' Nest

  • There's a swan's nest… called Denmark. Yep, this short tale is just a metaphor saying that Danes are like swans who fly forth and do awesome things. Unsurprisingly, there's a lotta Dane-loving in Andersen's tales.

Tale 62: A Happy Disposition

  • The first person narrator tells us that his father was a cheerful dude. He also happened to be the driver of a hearse. The narrator rambles about a Copenhagen newspaper, walking through a graveyard, and dead people. He wants his tombstone to read: "A Happy Disposition!" Um, okay.

Tale 63: Grief

  • A dog is buried, and the owner's grandchildren charge admission for the other neighborhood kids to see the grave. One little girl is too poor to pay admission, so she starts crying. The adults observing the scene find it laughable. Not cool, adults.

Tale 64: Everything In Its Right Place

  • The master of a manor is a jerk-face: he almost runs down the goose-girl, but a peddler helps her out. Then, due to drinking and gambling, the master loses his manor. The peddler later buys it and marries the goose-girl. Their motto is "everything in its right place." Their descendants are also virtuous, and one of them carves a flute from a willow tree that, when played, puts ignoble nobles in the servants' places and elevates those who are noble of heart to the head of the table. You've probably daydreamed about something like this happening to you; rather than being a lowly student stuck in math class, suddenly, you're Super Duper Ruler of the World!

Tale 65: The Pixy and the Grocer

  • A pixy lives with a grocer and his wife since they can afford to give him porridge with butter. But when the pixy spies on the student living upstairs, he witnesses the wonders of poetry and art. The pixy stays with the grocer for practical reasons (he needs to eat!), but when there's a fire, the pixy goes in and rescues the book of poetry. Newsflash: humans are like that, too, we make sure our practical needs get met even as we yearn for art and beauty.

Tale 66: The Millennium

  • In a thousand years, a bunch of young Americans will come to Europe to see all the sights. They'll flock to Spain, Greece, Italy, Norway, Iceland, and so on. Yep. This is a short tale about tourism.

Tale 67: Under the Willow Tree

  • Two kids, Knud and Johanna, grow up together and bond over stories and songs. They're separated when their families move. They reunite as adults. He's a shoemaker and she's a singer. He declares his love for her, but she says she's going to France and she regards him as a sibling. Despondent, he wanders Europe. He sees her sing again, and someone tells him that she's engaged. He keeps wandering, and finally has a dream under a willow tree that she declares her love for him. While dreaming, he freezes to death. If you're looking for a real uplifting tale, you should probably look elsewhere… like to some completely different author, like Doctor Seuss.

Tale 68: Five Peas from the Same Pod

  • Five peas in a pod wonder what will happen to them. A human opens the pod, and all five peas scatter to various parts of the room. One of the peas rolls into a crack in the window. Once it's started to sprout, a sickly girl spots it. All the other peas were eaten by birds or rolled into the gutter. But this pea in the window crack grows up and makes the sick girl happy and healthy (somehow).

Tale 69: A Leaf from Heaven

  • A leaf falls from a heavenly plant that an angel's carrying around. It takes root in the middle of a forest. Nobody recognizes the strange plant: a botanist tries to categorize it, a young girl worshipfully places a leaf in her Bible (and then dies), and a swineherd uproots it and feeds it to his pigs. Turns out the leaves would've cured the king's melancholy, so, whoopsie. At least the botanist gets some recognition for discovering a new species of plant.

Tale 70: She Was No Good

  • The mayor of a town complains that an alcoholic washerwoman is no good—and he says this where her son can hear it. The kid relays this to his mom and her friend Maren, who's also poor.
  • While the kid's bringing his mom booze on the job, Maren tells them that the mayor's youngest brother has died. The washerwoman takes the news badly, and goes home sick.
  • Once her son is napping, the washerwoman confesses to Maren that she once loved the mayor's youngest brother, but the mayor's mom talked her out of pursuing him because they're from different social stations. So the washerwoman married another dude. They were well off at first, but after the birth of their son, they grew poorer and poorer… until the husband died and they were left in complete and utter poverty.
  • The washerwoman then dies, and the mayor reveals that his youngest brother had left her (and her son) a huge sum of money. The mayor tells all this to the boy, emphasizing that he'll be placed in a good home. And it's not such a bad thing that his mother had died, because she was no good.
  • In tears, the kid asks Maren if his mother really was no good. Maren affirms that she was, in fact, a good person. Phewf.

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