Study Guide

Andersen's Fairy Tales Tales 71-80

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Tales 71-80

Tale 71: The Last Pearl

  • A newborn child's guardian angel talks with the house's guardian spirit (no, we're not sure what makes a guardian spirit different from a guardian angel, so don't ask) about the last pearl needed to complete a necklace of blessings for the child. They go searching, and find that the last pearl is a tear belonging to Sorrow.

Tale 72: The Two Maidens

  • A building tool called a rammer is called a "maiden" in Denmark. But then someone decides to change their names from "maidens" to "stampers." The tools get upset because they view themselves as maidens, not as objects. All the tools have a conversation about it. The name change goes on anyway.

Tale 73: The Uttermost Parts of the Sea

  • Two ships go north to explore, and the sailors meet some Eskimos. One of the sailors curls up to sleep with his Bible, and he has a marvelous dream about his grandmother and the girl he's crushing on receiving a letter from him with a psalm in it.

Tale 74: The Piggy Bank

  • The toys in the children's room decide to play human, all except the high-up piggy bank that doesn't talk to any of them. But remember what happened to Humpty Dumpty, sitting up on that wall? Well, the piggy bank falls and breaks open, spilling coins everywhere. The next day, a new piggy bank replaces the old one, but it's empty.

Tale 75: Ib and Little Christina

  • Two kids from the same river-side village, Ib and little Christina, are good buddies. They get lost one time and meet a Gypsy woman who gives them nuts that she claims contain their fortunes: carriages and dresses for Christina, and something that is "best" for Ib.
  • They grow up, and Christina goes off to work for a wealthy family. On visits, Ib basically asks her to marry him and she basically says yes. Then she gets a proposal from the son of the family she works for. Ib urges her to say yes since she'll be better off with a rich dude than with him, since he comes from a farming family.
  • Christina marries the rich guy, and then Ib doesn't hear from her for several years. But then he finds a Viking treasure on his land, which is worth a ton of money, so it's as though the Gypsy's prophecy came true for him too.
  • Ib travels to the big city and meets a little girl who looks just like Christina (creepy). She leads him to her dying mother… who turns out to be Christina! Her husband went mad and spent all their money, and Christina gave birth to her second child around then, who died soon after.
  • Christina dies without saying whether she recognizes Ib. He takes in Christina's little daughter (also named Christina—did we mention creepy?) and they're happy living together.

Tale 76: Clod Hans

  • A princess will only marry someone clever enough to keep up with her. The two clever sons of a squire go to court her. Their idiot younger brother, nicknamed Clod Hans, tags along. He rides a goat and picks up random stuff along the way: a dead crow, a wooden shoe, and mud. When the trio arrives, the princess confounds each of the suitors by saying they're roasting roosters. But Clod Hans answers that maybe they can roast his crow, too, and each of the objects he picked up is similarly helpful in the dialogue. So Clod Hans gets to marry the princess.

Tale 77: The Thorny Path

  • The narrator tells us that there's an old fairy tale called "The Thorny Path," which describes the difficult times every hero must experience. Then we see a bunch of different examples of great achievers—Socrates, Joan of Arc, Tycho Brahe (a Danish astronomer who was misunderstood)—being reviled and mocked.

Tale 78: The Servant

  • A Jewish girl attends a Christian school and is intrigued by the teachings about Christ, but because her dead mother had wanted her to remain Jewish, she could never convert. Years later, she works as a servant for a Christian family. She avoids reading from the New Testament, but is still drawn to the idea of Christianity. She works herself to death for these people, and cannot be buried on hallowed ground, but the sun shines on her grave nonetheless.

Tale 79: The Bottle

  • A broken bottle that serves as a birdbath remembers its life. It was opened to celebrate the engagement of a young couple, and it was refilled with an herbal drink that accompanied the young man of the couple to sea. The ship sank and the bottle ended up in a foreign land before finally making its way home, where it now exists as a birdbath in the home of the old maid who had been engaged to the sailor who died. As it turns out, this broken bottle is pretty worldly.

Tale 80: The Philosopher's Stone

  • The wisest man in the world lives in a giant tree called the Tree of the Sun, and he has five kids: four sons and a daughter who's blind. The sons go out into the world to seek the philosopher's stone, but each son is either tricked by the Devil or loses sight of his quest. Finally, the daughter goes out, does a bunch of good deeds, and is able to recall her brothers to rejoin her and her father. You see, faith is the key to pretty much everything.

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