Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

What the Moon Saw-Summary

Moon by Ashe ArterberryWhat the Moon Saw-Summary

What the Moon Saw has gone through all thirty-two of its nights, but I wanted to look back over the entirety of this story that took over a month to tell. I wanted to look back to the beginning and examine the story as a whole.

At the beginning of the story, an artist had recently moved to the city and felt very alone. When he looked at the night sky, he saw the familiar face of the moon. The moon promised to tell him a story each night. The artist might paint the story the moon told to him so that he would have a wonderful storybook.

The moon did come to the artist, not every night, but the moon did come many nights. The moon told the artist stories from all around the world to the artist. He spoke of Germany. He spoke of Sweden. He spoke of China. He spoke of India. He spoke of real things.

The things the Moon tells the artist are fascinating because many of them are real. Vreta Abbey is a real place. Gulte Rothschild is a real person, and she really did refuse to leave the home of her poorer days. Hans managed to include a world history lesson. I’m quite impressed with how much Hans seemed to know of the world outside of his country. He spoke of far away places with a fair amount of accuracy.

Hans didn’t have the internet; he had to get all of this information from traveling or from books; this meant Hans was either quite the traveler or quite the bookworm. Why wouldn’t Hans be a bookworm? He was a writer.

The Moon’s stories were great and varied, but there are some things I would have liked to have read in these stories.

Hans mainly sticks to European history, or near European history. Europe has had relations with China and India much longer than the other continents of the world. All the stories Hans tells are very European. I have to wonder why he didn’t think to include a story about Africa or the Americas. As widely read as Hans seemed to be, he must have heard stories about Africa and the Americas. The moon shows its face to all the world, not just Europe and Asia. I feel that the story would have been more complete with tales from other places.

The moon never goes back to speak directly to the artist after the introduction. We know the artist is there throughout the entire story, but the moon never has a heart-to-heart with him again. I would have liked to have known if the moon’s nightly stories helped the artist. Did the artist really make his storybook? Did he feel less lonely? Did he finally acclimate to living in the city? Did he become a successful artist? What happened to him? The moon leaves us hanging rather abruptly.

I have to wonder why Hans wrote thirty-two nights of the moon coming to see the artist. There are only thirty-one days in a month, or thirty, depending on what month it is. Hans would have had an entire cycle of the moon if he had only written thirty-one days. Hans obviously took some liberties with the moon and how often a person could see it. The artist wouldn’t have been able to see the moon every night. It might have been a new moon. It might have been raining. The moon wasn’t going to be there every night. The artist states that the moon did not come to him every night and there is a stretch of two weeks where the moon did not come at all to the artist, but this doesn’t exactly match up with the phases of the moon.

The number thirty-two doesn’t seem to match up with anything real. It almost seems as if Hans just got tired of writing about the moon. I’ll never know because Hans is gone.

Even though there are questions I have about the story, I still found it entertaining and interesting. I really like the idea of the moon going all these places and seeing all these things. I liked the idea of the moon looking down at us all and taking an interest in our lives. This artist was sad and lonely. The moon kept him company, if that’s not a nice thing to do, I don’t know what is.


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