Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

What the Moon Saw-Third Evening

Moon by Ashe ArterberryWhat the Moon Saw-Third Evening

The third evening the moon came to the artist he didn’t have such a nice tale to tell.

The third evening the moon came to the artist and said he had looked down a narrow alleyway. He could just shine into it. There he saw a woman he had known as a child and later as a woman. She was now sick and lay on her deathbed, but her landlord wanted to rent. Even though the woman was about to die, the landlord told her to make money anyway.

He sat her up in a chair looking out the window. The wind blew harshly and shattered a pane in the window. The curtains caught fire as the woman looked on, but she was already dead. The moon said she was preaching a sermon on sin by sitting there looking out dead upon all those who would pass by.

Observations

This story is rather harsh. The woman dies, which is sad. It does leave the reader questioning what happened in her life for her to get to this point. She had not been overly wealthy at any point in her life, but she had enough money at one point to have her wedding in a ballroom. That’s not exactly cheap. By her death we find that she lives in poverty owing the landlord rent. There is no mention of the husband she had married previously or any children. What tragedy and misfortune had already befallen this woman? Did her husband die? Did he leave her for another woman? Was he lost at sea? What was this woman’s profession if the landlord thought he could set her up in the window so that she could make money. I have a guess.

We’re looking at a woman who has had a harsh life for one reason or another. The moon sees it as yet another tragedy in how life works. I’m sure this isn’t very cheerful to the man he’s speaking to though.

Themes

The moon says this woman is preaching a sermon on sin by her deathly presence in the flaming house. Whose sin? Her sin? The sin of the landlord? Society’s sin? We could argue that the landlord was sinful for being unchristlike, unmerciful, and generally a jerk. At the same time we could also argue that the woman had been sinful and that had led to her death sitting there in the window. Was she a hooker? Did she leave her husband for a lover who later ran away? What’s the deal? Is the dead woman simply an example of sin and what could happen to you for your sinful ways?

Everybody has sin. Everybody commits sins. The woman probably isn’t a comment on any one person. Something sinful led her to where she is now whether it was her sin or the landlord’s, but if you want to think about it, we’re all led by sin. It may not be your sin, but someone else’s sin could definitely put you in a tight spot. We all affect each other with our sins. It’s not a pleasant thought, but it’s true. The terrible things you do could affect someone else and be detrimental in their lives with them being completely innocent of the whole thing.

Overall

Way to be such a Debbie Downer, Moon.

Weigh In

What do you think happened to lead the woman to where she ended up?

Why do you think the moon told such a sad story to the artist?

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