Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Sunbeam and the Captive

The Sunbeam and the CaptiveThe Sunbeam and the Captive

The sun was shining on an imposing building. The building’s windows were barred. The building was a prison. The sunlight shown on the prison because the sun shines on the just and the unjust. A bird was singing. The bird stopped on a window and sang near a prisoner. The sunlight also fell across the prisoner and warmed his heart just a little. The bird flew away and the sunshine stopped shining on the prisoner. The room was once again dark as too was the heart of the prisoner, but the sun and the song of the bird had touched the prisoner.


This story is more like a piece of poetry rather than a story. My summary doesn’t really do it justice. The prose is almost melodic. It all has a beautiful sound and a beautiful rhythm, along with this deeper and bittersweet undertone.

The fact of the matter is that many people who are imprisoned do not have windows to look out of. This guy was lucky. He got to hear a bird sing and he got to see the sun. Prison has never been a nice place, but prisons back in the day were notoriously awful, but, the again, most of them probably deserved being in all the awful.


The story states itself that the sun shines on both the just and the unjust. God doesn’t shy away from providing then necessities of life to someone just because they’re a sinner. God loves us all, that’s the crux of the matter.

Moving away from the fact that God loves you no matter what, let’s talk about this prisoner. His heart had been touched. It didn’t matter that he was this big bad criminal, he could still be touched. It doesn’t matter how bad you are, there is still a little room for goodness and light, but you have to be willing to let that in.

The sad thing is that once the sunlight was gone, the heart of the man was once again filled with darkness. This statement just goes to show you that you can be happy in certain circumstances, but the darkness can return and make things just as bleak as they had been.


I would hate to be in prison.

Weigh In

Do you think the prisoner appreciated the bird song and the sunlight?

Do you think the thoughts he went back to were evil thoughts or just sad thoughts?


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