The Cripple

The CrippleThe Cripple

There was a couple named Kristen and Ole. They had four children, but one of them was a cripple, they called him so most of the time. His name was Hans when otherwise described. He had been a normal child, but had gotten sick. Then he couldn’t walk. He stayed in bed. He was not idle. He spent a large amount of his time knitting things to sell for the benefit of the family.

A lady who lived nearby gifted Hans with a storybook. The parents did not know what would become of a storybook, but did acknowledge that Hans could not spend all of his time knitting. Hans read the book and re-read the book. He read it over and over and over again. He read his family stories, which they came to enjoy. The stories made them think and made them question their lives, religion, and things in general.

After some time a schoolmaster came to speak with Hans. He came again, and again, and taught Hans all mannder of things. Hans soaked up the knowledge that the school master gave to him.

More gifts came to Hans as well. The very same lady who had given him the book, also gave him a little bird, which Hans enjoyed very much. One day, the house cat was eyeing up the bird and Hans just knew the cat would eat his bird. Hans yelled at the cat, but it didn’t do any good. He threw his book at the cat, but he missed. Finally, when it seemed the cat would get the bird right in front of Hans, he sprang from the bed and onto his feet. He could walk!

He was so excited that he ran all the way to the schoolmaster. Hans did walk again and he became quite smart. He left his family to go elsewhere, but they kept the story book as a remembrance of Hans and what happened to him.

Observations

Hans the cripple, poor kid, even his parents went around calling him “the cripple.”

Just FYI, this is politically incorrect language these days. You’re supposed to use “people first” language. So you wouldn’t say “an autistic person,” you would say, “a person who has autism.” The idea is not to define a person by a disease or defect and define them as a person first, before anything else. You’re not Diabetes Phil, you’re Phil who has diabetes.

Themes

People disregarded Hans because he had some kind of disease, probably polio, and couldn’t walk. They looked over him as if he weren’t there at all. We do this all the time. We do it with lots of things. We do it unconsciously in many instances. In our minds, somehow a person is determined as not a whole person, if they’re in a wheelchair, or if they have autism, or if they’re overweight, or whatever the case may be. We tend to define people by a characteristic rather than who that person is. A person is not just one thing, so why do we treat them that way?

These people thought in their heads, “That cripple kid is going to be in that room for the rest of his life, better give him a book to entertain himself.” Never did they think, “This kid is going to become a scholar.” They didn’t expect something like that of him because he had a disability. Stephen Hawking is in a wheelchair and requires a large amount of help and medical intervention on a day-to-day basis, but does that mean he accomplished less because of it? He accomplished anyway, despite what was going on with his health. As long as a person is a person, they can do and accomplish things, no matter what characteristic or disability you may see as a detriment.

Overall

Good for Hans.

Weigh In

What would Hans’ life have been like without reading?

Do you think Hans found solace in being able to travel through the written word?

The Best Thing the Galoshes Did

The Best Thing the Galoshes DidThe Best Thing the Galoshes Did

We’ve finally reached the end of what these darn galoshes have been up to.

The clerk was asleep in his bed when his neighbor, a student, decided that he wanted to go for a walk and he would borrow the galoshes of his friend. He crept into his room and when the clerk made no objections to his neighbor stealing his galoshes, he went away on his walk.

The student was having a nice walk, but wished he could be traveling in Switzerland and Italy. As the galoshes were magical he soon found himself in a diligence going over the alps from Switzerland to Italy. The journey was not an easy one and he wished to be done with it.

He soon found himself on sturdier ground in Italy. The journey was long and there wasn’t a good place to stay. He was worn out and wished for food and lodging. He found it with other travelers at a very nasty inn. It stank and no one could determine what the smell was. There were beggars in the street outside of the inn. The food was awful and some people joked that they might as well eat in the stable because then at least they would know what they were smelling.

The student thought that traveling was great, but he thought it would be neater if he didn’t have his body to continue with. The shoes granted his wish and he soon found his soul separated from his body. When he came back around, his body was lying in a coffin at a wake. Care and the maid of fortune were there. Care had her, “I told you so,” look on her face and asked the maid of fortune what good things the galoshes had brought to humanity. The maid of fortune said that the student had good things because he no longer suffered the woes of the Earth. Care did not agree and took the galoshes off of the student who subsequently returned to his body. In the end Care took the galoshes into her keeping as they weren’t doing anybody else any good.

The Best Thing the Galoshes DidObservations

There are a couple of Italian phrases in this story.

  • la bella Italia-Beautiful Italy
  • Eccellenza, miserabili– This basically means excellence, and miserable. I don’t know why the beggars would be saying this. It’s a given that they’re miserable. Maybe they’re addressing the travelers as excellencies as they seem to be of a higher class and could possibly spare some money and food.

The inn in this story sure sounds like an awful place. It gets half a star on Priceline.com. Imagine the review!

Random Italian Inn

The innkeeper was ill-kempt and poorly dressed. Her clothing was full of holes. The food was absolutely awful. I’m pretty sure it was just leftovers from the Chinese restaurant next door, also of dubious nature. There was an awful smell in the entire place like some dead thing rotting and full of maggots. The parking garage smelled like people went to the bathroom in there all the time. We had to sleep in shifts because we were afraid the rats were going to steal our things. The walls were literally made of paper. There were also bed bugs and the person in the next room was a prostitute.

Worst vacation ever!

Don’t stay at that place. It sounds worse than a Motel 6. Ah, the joys of traveling!

The Best Thing the Galoshes DidThemes

Sometimes getting what you wish for isn’t so great. That’s really what this entire story is about. The galoshes gave people what they desired, but what people desired wasn’t really what they desired. They weren’t the kind of people to really want these things. The counsellor didn’t really want to live in the 1400s. The clerk didn’t really want to be a bird or a poet. The volunteer didn’t really want to see into the hearts of people. The other guy didn’t really want to go to the moon or be a lieutenant. They were passing fancies. Sometimes things just pop into our heads and we’re like,  “Yeah, that does sound great;” this especially happens when you’re really hungry and you order an entire pizza to eat yourself because you think you’re that hungry. You’re not that hungry. You’re going to eat until you feel sick and then just stare at the rest of your pizza with a mixture of disgust and nausea as it gets cold and the grease congeals.

There’s a song, it’s a country song, and it’s about unanswered prayers. The basic idea is to thank God for not answering all of our prayers. Sometimes the thing we thought we wanted isn’t the thing we really wanted, or needed. Look, those skinny jeans may sound like a great idea, in theory, but some of us really don’t need to wear skinny jeans. If you put those on your Christmas list and someone actually buys them for you, you’re going to be disappointed when you try them on and realize fully that you’re not a skinny jeans person. Cue Sir Mix A Lot and his big butt crew, because those skinny jeans just aren’t going to work.

It’s a good thing that we don’t always get what we want. At the time we think it sucks, but we can look back on it and be like, “Yeah, selling my house to become a professional pogo-sticker probably wouldn’t have turned out so great.”

Overall

“Honey, win me that giant stuffed teddy bear!”

“Ok”

*Later on at home*

“Where in the heck are we going to put this thing? It takes up half our living room.”


 

The Tinder-box

The Tinder-boxThe Tinder-box

This story has nothing to do with any adult-friend finder websites, well, never mind, this story is sort of about that.

Once upon a time a soldier was coming home from war. He met an old lady on the road. She asked for his help. There was a tree and that tree had a hollow in it. The woman told him that he must climb down and get all the money he wanted. She only asked that he retrieve her tinder-box when he was down below. She told them there were three dogs down there. One dog had eyes as large as teacups, another had eyes as big as mill wheels, and the third had eyes as big as towers. She told the soldier all he had to do was pick up each dog and set it on her blue-checked tablecloth and the dogs would not bug him.

Down below the soldier found a chest filled with money; he filled his pockets then went to look elsewhere. He then found a room with another dog and another chest. This chest held silver. He put the dog with eyes as big as mill wheels on the tablecloth and filled his pockets with silver. Then he found yet another room with the dog with eyes as big as towers. In that dog’s chest there was gold. After putting that dog on the tablecloth he filled his pockets with gold instead of silver. He went back up; the woman asked him where her tinder-box was; he went back to get it.

When he came up the woman would not tell him what the tinder-box was for, so he killed her. The soldier went on his way and lived richly off of his wealth. He heard of a princess who slept in a tower of copper. It was whispered that she would marry a common soldier. The soldier asked if he could see her and he learned no one was allowed to see her.

After he had spent all of his money he was playing with the tinder-box one night. He struck it and the dog with eyes as big as teacups appeared. The dog asked him what orders he wished to give. The soldier told the dog to bring him money. The dog soon came back with plenty of money. The soldier learned that if he struck the tinder-box once the dog with eyes as big as teacups would appear, twice, and the dog with eyes as big as mill wheels would appear, three times, and the dog with eyes a big as towers would appear.

One night he called the dog with eyes as big as teacups to him and told the dog he wanted to see the princess. The dog rushed off and brought the sleeping princess back on his back. The soldier kissed her. The dog took her back. The next morning she told her parents about her strange dream where a soldier kissed her. They were wise to the whole thing and suspected foul play. They set an old lady to watch the princess.

The dog came again the next night to take the princess. The old lady put on water boots and ran as fast as she could. She marked the house of the soldier with an X so she could show the king the next day. The soldier wised up and marked Xs on all the doors in town. The next day, no one could tell which house had been the soldier’s.

The next night the queen was ready. She made a bag with a hole in it full of buckwheat flour. The dog did not notice the flour spilling out of the bag when he came to get the princess. The trail of flour led right to the soldier’s house. They told him he would be hanged. In jail he bribed a boy to run to his house and get his tinder-box for him. At the gallows he requested to smoke one last pipe. He struck the tinder-box three times and all three dogs appeared. The dogs attacked all the accusers, councilors and judges and killed them.

The king ordered not to be touched, but he was also killed by the dogs.  Everyone was too afraid of the solider to resist, so they said he could be king and he married the princess. The dogs were allowed to sit at the table during the wedding feast.

The End

The Tinder-boxObservations

There is a strange passage in this story.

“Good gracious, what a quantity of gold there was! Enough to buy all the sugar-sticks of the sweet-stuff women.”

I’m guessing that the women were the candy sellers back in the day, but at first glance this passage appears a little strange. I do think this could possibly be taken in more than one manner. Maybe sweet-stuff women isn’t necessarily a descriptor for women who sell candy, maybe they sell other things, you know, like their bodies. I have no basis for this though. I just suggest it could be taken in more than one way.

Why in the world would water boots make you run faster? Boots meant to be worn in water are often heavier than regular boots and more clumsy with their rubber and such. Maybe this woman just really wanted to run through mud puddles or maybe it’s like a video game and how you can equip certain shoes that make you run faster.

For those of you who don’t know, a tinder-box is a little box you would use to start a fire, well, get a spark. You would then have to nourish that spark enough that it would grow into a fire. A tinder-box is basically the equivalent of a lighter. These boxes would have flint, fire steel, and tinder. The tinder would be a piece of char-cloth or other material that would readily hold a spark. Matches eventually came along and replaced tinder-boxes, but if you area  a savvy outdoors-person, you probably take a tinder-box with you on camping trips in case those matches don’t hold up how you want them to.

The Tinder-boxThemes

I wouldn’t call this a story with a happy ending. Sure, he gets to marry the woman(girl) that he wants to marry, but that’s only happy for him. Everyone is not happy. This girl’s parents are dead and her new husband is the reason. The people of this kingdom now have a tyrant ruling over them. Complain all you want about the other guy locking his daughter in a copper tower, this new guy is not nice. He’ll sic his three weird dogs on you and that will be the end of your existence. His people will live in fear.

You don’t have to be a nice guy to win. This soldier is not a nice guy. First off, he just kills this woman out in the woods because she won’t tell him what she wants to do with her own belonging. Then he blows through a large amount of money, seemingly in no time flat. Then he steals a girl from her room three nights in a row. Does he just kiss her or does he do other things to her? Can his dogs get him Rohypnol as well? He then murders all these people including the parents of his soon-to-be wife. He’s not nice. He’s a jerk. He’s using what powers he took by force to make other people do his bidding. What a jerk.

How long until this kingdom is bankrupt? Does the new wife fear for her life daily? What about the people of the kingdom?

This story is not a happy story. This soldier is a harsh person. War might have made him that way or maybe he was that way before he went to war. We could suppose that he was a nice guy before he went to war and came back a tyrant. War does change people; there is no escaping that fact.

Overall

This just isn’t a happily ever after. We could even look at this story and see the detriments that war might bring upon a person.

Info: The beautiful illustration for this story was created by Vladislov Erko and he created an entire series of artwork illustrating The Tinder-box.


 

Hans Christian Andersen!!

Hans Christian Andersen!!Hans Christian Andersen!!

It is time to make a foray into a different literary world. This time we’re going Danish, not Dutch, Danish. Hans Christian Andersen is the man we’re going to spend a few months with, perhaps a year, we’ll see.

If you did not know, Hans is responsible for The Little Mermaid. There is a statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, Denmark. Hans was born in 1805, a few years before the Grimm’s brothers released their fairy tales in 1812. Hans began publishing stories are a young age, but started publishing fairy tales in 1835. Subsequent releases saw more and more fairy tales that were retellings of traditional tales Hans heard growing up, but also tales he himself wrote.

As far as a person, Hans was a weird one. He liked to write. He hated school. He didn’t want to have sex. He fell in love with both women and men. He seemed to be a very romantic person, generally, but was quite shy. Hans died in 1875 of liver cancer and other ailments. He did not get married or have any children. Rumors have persisted for a long time that Hans was the illegitimate child of a king, but nothing has ever been proven.

Hans was interested in celebrating Scandinavia. His stories reflect life in the region. While I had something of a tie to the Grimm’s brothers as I do have some German heritage and someone in my family was actually named Grimm, I do not have any ties to anyone even the remotest bit Scandinavian, but I’m going to enjoy this anyway.

A movie was made about Hans in 1952; it’s called Hans Christian Andersen. I included a clip of it down below. I’ve seen the move on several occasions, but it’s been years.

One-elevenbooks will now sport two new categories. There will be an author category for Hans, but there will also be a general category called Andersen Fairy Tales.

So get ready. We’re going to do The Little Mermaid, The Tinderbox, and The Emperor’s New Clothes. We’re going to do it all.

Strong Hans

Strong HansStrong Hans

Here we go again with a Hans. Hans must have been the most popular name in Germany at the time.

Once upon a time there was a small family who lived alone in a valley. The mother and the son were one day out in the woods gathering fir branches when robbers sprang out of nowhere and carried the mother and her child away. The woman begged to be set free with her son, but the robbers told her they wouldn’t kill her. If she kept house for them, they would keep her alive. Their house happened to be underground and lit only by a fire lit on the hearth. The woman stayed many years keeping house for the robbers.

The child’s name was Hans and he grew. He asked who his father was one day, and the mother would not tell him. She was afraid he would get hurt trying to get away from the robbers trying to find him. Hans decided to ask the captain of the robbers who his father was. Hans had made a club and took it with him to accost the captain of the robbers. He told the captain to tell him who his father was, or else. Hans got the crap beat out of him. Hans decided he would wait a year and try again.

Hans did try again, at first, the captain was able to knock Hans on the ground, but Han got right back up swinging. He ended up beating the crap out of everyone there. His mother had been watching cautiously from a corner. When everyone was too sore to move, she helped him escape. They took a bag filled it with some loot, got the key to the cave from the captain and walked out into the sun. Hans was surprised to see all of the trees and the sky since he had not seen them in many years. They walked until they came to the little house where they had lived before. The father was still there. He had supposed them both dead, but was very glad to have them back. Hans set down his heavy bag of loot on the floor and it fell right through. The father was a bit upset that the house was broken, but Hans told him not to worry. There was more than enough money in the bag to build a new house, plus buy cattle and other items. Hans helped around the house for a year, but then got the wanderlust. He made himself a walking stick of a hundred-weight and told his parents he was going a-traveling.

Hans went on his way and came across a large man twisting a large rope around a pine tree. Hans was impressed and decided to invite the man along his journey. Hans named the man Fir-twister. The two soon came upon another large man. He was standing by a large rock striking pieces of it away with his fist. Hans invited him along as well, but renamed him Rock-splitter(not Rock-biter I’m sorry).

They walked and walked and came to a deserted castle. They slept there the night. The next morning Hans went into the garden and found a boar rushing at him. He knocked it out with one blow. They ate the boar and decided that they would keep house there a bit. Each day one man would stay home, while two went out to hunt.

The first day Fir-twister stayed home. He was cooking when a little man came up and asked for some meat. Fir-twister told him, “No freaking way,” but the little man soon sprang up and beat the crap out of Fir-twister. When the other two got home, Fir-twister said nothing of the little man.

The next day Rock-splitter stayed home. He was cooking and the little man showed up to ask for bread. Rock-splitter wasn’t going to give him any. Well, the little man beat the crap out of Rock-splitter as well, but he didn’t say anything about it when the other two got home.

The next day it was Hans’ turn to stay home. The little man came again asking for meat. As Hans was more kind than the other two, he gave the little man some meat, which he ate, but them promptly asked for some more. Hans gave him some more, but then, the little man asked for even more. Hans told him no. The little man tried to beat Hans up, but Hans was stronger than the other two men. Hans knocked him down a couple of times and the little man ran away. Hans followed him.

The little man went into a hole in the rock. Hans marked the spot. He told the other two what had happened and they admitted that the little man had beat the crap out of both of them. Hans told them it was their fault for being so stingy. They took a basket and rope and went to the hole. Hans let his club down first, then Hans went down. He found a door and inside was a maiden, but the dwarf was there grinning like a sea-cat. The maiden was chained and sad. Hans used his club to deliver a blow to the dwarf that killed him.

The maiden’s chains released when the dwarf was dead. She told him she was the daughter of a king and that she had been stolen and imprisoned here. Hans put her up in the basket, but after he already put her up, he thought that this two companions might try to pull one over on him. So he sent only his club up next. It wasn’t long before it came crashing back down. Hans didn’t know how to get out. He was pacing back and forth and saw that the dead dwarf had a ring on his finger. Hans took it and twisted it.

He looked up and saw the spirits of the air. They told him he was their master. They asked him what he wanted. He said he wanted to be carried up again. They did so. There was no one there when he arrived though. Hans twisted the ring again and they told him his friends were at sea. Hans ran and ran to get there and jumped in the ocean without thinking. Hans still had his heavy club with him and sank quickly, but he remembered the ring. He was transported to the boat where he beat his two former friends. Hans then sailed the boat back to the maiden’s house where he married her.

The End

Strong HansObservations

These stories make me wonder if stealing the neighboring king’s daughter was a common occurrence back in the middle ages. Was it a common political move? I think it’s something I’m going to have to look into. I don’t know where I would find the answer, but it would be interesting to know. You have to remember our fiction mirrors our reality. So some of these things that happened in the Grimm’s fairy tales probably actually happened in some manner in real life.

The reference to “spirit of the air” sounds very pagan, notice the story doesn’t say “angels.” There may be some version of this story that uses the term angels instead of spirits of the air, but this one doesn’t. You do have to remember that even during the 1700s there were still some pagan hold-out areas of Europe. There were many areas in which local pagan religions combined with the Christianity that came into the area to form a very unique version of Christianity. Some of our modern-day holidays(Easter, Christmas, and Halloween) are full of both Christian references while also being full of pagan references.

It’s a wonder that the man waited for his wife so long. Usually that doesn’t happen. I know you guys want to believe in love conquers all, but back in the day, if your husband disappeared for several years, you went out and got a new husband because everyone assumed yours was dead. This does happen today, but it’s more seldom seeing as people just can’t disappear with our plethora of media connection. There are many stories about women during WWI and WWII remarrying while their husbands were away because they hadn’t heard anything. In reality, I think this woman would have come home to another woman and her kids in her house.

I couldn’t figure out what a “sea-cat” was since the modern-day interpretation is a type of boat and I don’t think it grins, nor did it exist during the creation of this story.

Strong HansThemes

A story element we see every once in a while is the story of a son getting big enough and strong enough to take care of his mother and defeat his foes. Hans in this story is that son. He becomes strong enough to take care of his mother. He becomes strong enough to defeat his captors. It’s a game of patience and dedication. You’re not going to pack on sixty pounds of muscle over night. Hans had to wait and watch.

We’ve got another magical ring. I think part of what makes rings so magical is that they seemingly have no beginning and no end. If you’ve got something on your hand that has no beginning and no end, that’s pretty impressive I think.

Hans seems to be a soldier of the truth. He wants to know who his father is. He wants the truth and he’s not afraid to get a little dirty for it. He demands the truth. When his roomies don’t tell him the truth he chastises them. He gets the truth of where the princess came from and why she’s in a cave underground. He sees that the princess is returned home to her family. Hans is like your stand-up guy. He’s probably handsome to top all of that off.

If Hans were a Biblical character we would think of him as someone like David who slew Goliath. If we were comparing Hans to Book of Mormon characters we would think of him as Nephi who went and did because the Lord commanded. Think of your stories about men who were the most upstanding and the most valiant. Those are your Hans equivalents. The story of Samson does come to mind, although Samson’s story is quite sad, while Hans ends up ok. Samson was this champion of the Lord before he was led astray and gave away the secret of his strength. We can’t say that Hans doesn’t have his faults, because he does, we do see that he’s a bit impatient, but for the most part, Hans is the man.

I don’t know if this was the case, but I can imagine, or envision, a time when little boys looked up to someone like Hans wanting to be just like him.

Overall

Hans reminds me of Barbie because it seems he does everything, but his accessories probably aren’t hot pink.