Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Neighbouring Families

<h2 style=”text-align: center;”><a href=””><img class=”alignleft wp-image-8094″ title=”from wikipedia” src=”; alt=”The Neighbouring Families” width=”382″ height=”258″ /></a>The Neighbouring Families</h2>
There was once a lovely rose bush. All manner of birds and creatures would visit it. The roses were quite pleased to have such good neighbors. One day a nightingale came by and sang about “the beautiful.” It was later explained that “the beautiful” was in town and was a peacock. The peacock could spread its feathers full of colors, but it was really just a bird underneath.

The sparrow who lived nearby when all this was going on happened to hear the story, but so too did her children. The children said they would pluck all the feathers from the peacock.

As it happened, the mother sparrow was caught by some naughty boys, who then took her to another person. This person suggested making the sparrow pretty. They put egg white on her and then covered her in gold flake. They also glued a bit of red to her. She flew away in terror but was not recognized at home. All the birds tried to peck at her, including her own children. They pecked and pecked. They pecked all her feathers off. The roses offered her shelter, but it was too late. She died underneath the rose bush.

Her children soon wondered where she was. They fought over the nest and several ended up getting pushed out. They decided they would separate and go their own ways. They would scratch three times when they met. One sparrow stayed in the nest, but somehow the house caught fire and the nest burned with it.

The sparrows multiplied and would greet each other with three scratches. The oldest sparrow had become an old maid and visited Copenhagen. There she saw what looked like the very same roses that had been at the house where she grew up. They were, in fact, the same roses. An artist had come by to paint the picture of the beautiful roses standing against the charred remains of a house. He took the rosebush to plant upon the grave of Thorwaldsen; there they bloomed.
<h2><a href=””><img class=”alignleft wp-image-8095″ title=”Ok, I guess he’s passable. He’s no Franz Lizst, but he’s ok. Painting from Wikipedia” src=”; alt=”Bertel_Thorvaldsen_with_the_Bust_of_Horace_Vernet” width=”215″ height=”275″ /></a>Observations</h2>
Hans had a thing for Bertel Thorwaldsen because he’s mentioned him in at least two stories. Bertel was an amazing sculptor, but I don’t know why Hans talks about him so much. I don’t know enough about the two to know if they knew each other or even if they were alive at the same time, either way, Hans had something of a crush on Bertal, whether he was alive or not at the time.

Sparrows are, in fact, said to bring good luck, but they’re also omens of death. I don’t recall what the exact bird was, but there was a point, in England, that people would build these little shelters for a particular type of bird on the inside of their house. It was basically like this little box that protruded into your living space. Birds could fly into it from the outside and make their nests. I don’t remember if the bird was a sparrow or not, but there was no practical reason for this; it was a superstition.
I am not overly impressed with this story. It seems too long and it’s full of drama. It’s part origin story of why sparrows scratch in the manner that they do, but it’s also part something else.

To me, part of this story is about recognizing people that were close to you. Many years later you can meet up with someone who was in your first-grade class or used to be your neighbor and you still have a connection. You still have something that draws you together. In this story, the sparrows and the roses had that thing that drew them together, but the sparrows also had something that brought them together. I know this story is supposed to be on a happier note, but these sparrows took part in killing their own mother; that’s not happy. Then the roses hid her body. That’s called being an accomplice. So the sparrows and the roses were accomplices in crime. Nice, huh?

Poor sparrow mom.
Note to self: If I’m ever turned into a sparrow, do not dress differently, otherwise my children will murder me and the roses will hide my body so that no one will know what terrible fate befell me.
<h2>Weigh In</h2>
Do you have a better explanation for this story?

Really, isn’t this story kind of creepy?


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