Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Girl who Trod on the Loaf

The Girl who Trod on the LoafThe Girl who Trod on the Loaf

There was once a horrible girl named Inge. She was horrible to her own parents, but at one point went to live with another, wealthier family. She was horrible there too. The mother there suggested that Inge go home and visit her family every once in a while.

The first time Inge went she saw her mother and was ashamed, so she did not stay for a visit.

The second time Inge went she had been given a loaf of bread to give to her family. Her path took her through a bit of a swamp. Inge did not want to get her nice shoes dirty, so she put the loaf down and stepped on it instead of stepping into the water.

This did not help Inge at all. She sank down and down, until she sank all the way through the swamp and into Hell. There she could not sleep and she could not cry. She heard all the awful things people said about her. Her mother’s tears did not help her at all because she had been so awful. People knew about her deed with the bread and talked about it. Years and years passed.

A little girl once asked her mother about Inge and what her fate would be. Perhaps, if Inge repented she may be able to get out of the horrible place she was in. Years and years passed. The little girl was now an old woman who had prayed for Inge. When she died and went to heaven, Inge turned into a bird. She was the most helpful bird. She fed other birds as best she could. When she fed other birds food enough to equal the loaf in weight, her wings turned white and she flew up into heaven.

Observations

Inge must have been stupid too, otherwise she wouldn’t have thought it was a good idea to step on a loaf of bread. Bread is too soft to step on, even if it is a coarser bread. If the bread is so hard that it can, in fact, support your weight, then you probably shouldn’t eat it. That’s just indigestion in loaf form.

I feel likes Hans should have been a preacher. Here he is, telling a very Christian moral story, again. I would wager to guess, that if we could compare Hans life to what he was writing at the time, we would find some type of religious fervor during this portion of Hans’ life. Maybe Hans had even taken a liking to someone who was religious during this time period.

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Inge is a brat. There is no nice way of saying this. She is horrible. She was a horrible child, both her families said so. How did she even end up with two families? Maybe it was that the first family got so tired of having her around that they let her out. Then maybe the second family got so tired of having her around that they sent her to visit her first family for some peace and quiet.

As many times as I have said that a parent can damage a child’s moral compass by incorrect rearing and a bratty child is often a product of bad parenting, there are just some children that are bad. I don’t think either of Inge’s families were terrible to her. The story doesn’t go that into detail, but it doesn’t sound as if she was being beaten or deprived. In fact, the story says that she had nice clothes. She was being well provided for. It doesn’t seem as if she was getting any treatment that turns a child into a brat.

While I do say that Inge is bad, I don’t think she’s inherently evil; I think she’s more prone to misbehavior and a sour attitude. She is one of those children that need a creative method of punishment and instruction. If a spanking or time out doesn’t work, you try something else. She’s a child that doesn’t fit into a mold. She’s the kid you call Super Nanny for.

The problem is that it takes a lot of time and effort to deal with a child like Inge, well, at least if you want him or her to be a normally behaved child. Not everybody has the time or the resources to do this; there are also some parents who just flat-out don’t care. They give up on a child like this. Did Inge’s two families do this to her? I have no idea.

Inge reminds me of a child of a cousin. This young woman has always been the biggest handful and has been pretty much impossible to deal with her entire life, she still is. Age didn’t make it any better. She’s like Inge. Maybe one day she’ll straighten up, like Inge, but hopefully it won’t take as many years as it took Inge to repent of her wrong doings.

Despite the fact that Inge is a brat, her punishment was a little severe, a lot severe actually. You don’t go to Hell because you stepped on a perfectly good loaf of bread. That may be awfully selfish and uncaring of you, but you’re not going to Hell because of it.

This is a story meant to scare children into behaving properly. Don’t be like Inge. Don’t be so selfish and uncaring; you might go to Hell.

I have a difficult time putting faith behind any religion that believes a child would end up in Hell, purgatory, or whatever form of Hell that the religion believes in. They’re children and they may be brats, but they’re not going to be eternally judged before they’re old enough to know better.

Overall

I feel bad for Inge because she was over-punished, but I also don’t feel bad for her because she was a brat.

Weigh In

Do you feel as if Inge truly got what she deserved?

Do you think children of Inge’s age should be held eternally responsible for their deeds?

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