Sunday, December 21, 2003

The Little Match Girl

21 Dec 03 Little Match Girl

Little Match Girl
in multiple languages illus written in 1846

McGonagall :Little Match Girl verse

Andersen leaves fantasy behind as he opens the story. Familiar with the Christmas bustle and expectations of snow, we envision clearly the girl walking along the street with her head uncovered. Andersen wastes not a word.

Little Match Girl illus by Rachel Isadora

She had been wearing slippers, but thery were too big. Why? the answer is immediate—they were her mother's. As little kids we donned our parent's shoes and hobbled about in them, doubling over in giggles by the very immensity of them, our miniature feet lost in the cavernous depths.

Relating something commonplace to the external world, Andersen opens the door for us to enter into a different world of poverty. We are not the onlookers peering in through the windows with Scrooge at his nephew's celebrations; but involved directly. We feel the cold, hear the mumbled words of the boy and feel numbness overtaking our minds as the snow falls in flurries about the child in the thin clothes.

Andersen increases the tension by contrasting the season of generosity with that of utter poverty. She hadn't sold a match all day. The repetition of the thought identifies the child's despair and fear of returning home, the utter hopelessness of her life. The fear of being beaten is softened by the repetition of the unsold matches. The lines dull the pain as she loses consciousness. Reality and hallucination mix as her mind wanders into a different world where food is readily available. Only the very hungry dream of apples and roast goose in technicolor.

We understand and see the misery and beauty surrounding the child as she leaves this world. Her vision gives us hope for the next and peace in this as we return back into the bothersome, bustling season of Christmas when greedy shoppers trample each other in the stores, trying to nab the last bargain of the day.

The portrait haunts us a day later as we pass the beggars on the streets or avoid the homeless people in the metros and train stations, but Andersen had the courage to look within the soul and see that underneath the poverty and hunger, they were people, too, needing as much love and attention as you or I.

Match Seller illus by Naszra Ksiegarnia 1950

Instead of calculating your Christmas presents or Christmas budget to spend on friends; make a commitment of tiem to care about those whose lives are hard. Dedicate a portion of your time to a community project or involve yourself in establishing a new one. It doesn't have to be a major investment, but only a matter of a few hours per month—visiting the ill or shut-in in the local nursing-home or collecting old magazines to create a magazine exchange in the hospital or library for those who cannot afford to pay subscriptions. America is the great wasteland of wealth. So many things could be recycled, but are not. So much can be given directly to those in need. Volunteer at a local youth group; work on a crisis line; help develop resources for a website; organize kids to clean trash off the streets—there's a million things possible. Read stories to kids—do something to make this world a better place. Think how different Malvo's life could have been had someone cared for him and showed him the meaning of love. Inside, he's human, too; but he grew up in a brutal world shaped by blind indifference. What can be expected when kids are taught from very young age to play computer games with the major objective is ultimate destruction and televisions are saturated with violence? Save a life by reaching out to someone in need. Carry an apple in the pocket to give to someone in need of food. It's not the biggest sacrifice you'll make in life, but it might warm someone's heart and offer hope to live.

Letter and Story of Little Match Girl
in German with a sketch by Andersen from the Gazette Archive
background of the story

Odense City Archive: Little Match Girl
Archive: manuscripts of HCA

University of Southern Denmark: Andersen Project
biographical website with several essays regarding works and life

Tale of Christmas Eve 1850

Christmas Goose
obviously influence Dickens' Scrooge


14th Dec 03 Fir Tree by HCA

23 Nov 03 Humperdink's Children Hansel u Gretel Making Gingerbread B

23 Nov 03 Humperdinck's Children making Gingerbread A

16 Nov 03 Nutcracker

7 Dec 03 Snow Queen

5 Dec 2004 Kidnapped Santa

1 December 2004 Winter Festival Event


Anonymous web lol said...

kul post

11:40 AM  

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