The Little Match Girl Summary by Hans Christian Andersen
The Little Match Girl Summary About the Author
Hans Christian Anderson (2nd April, 1805 – 4th August, 1875), was a Danish writer, who enjoyed fame as a novelist, dramatist and poet, but fairy tales are his greatest contribution to world literature. Many of his stories include, ‘The Ugly Duckling’ and ‘The Princess and the Pea’, remain classics of the genre. His stories have been adapted for stage and screen, including a popular animated version of ‘The Little Mermaid’. He suffered a serious injury after falling from bed. His last publication, a collection of stories, appeased the same year. Signs of Liver Cancer started showing up and finally he died in Copenhagen.
The Little Match Girl Summary
‘The Little Match Girl’ is a sad story about a miserable young girl. The story begins on a rough cold winter evening, the wind was swirling, the sky was darkening and the snow was coming down. It was the last evening before New Year and it seems that the people were preparing to spend a nice evening in their homes with a lavish celebratiori. In this chill and darkness, a poor little girl strolled, who was bareheaded and bare feet. She was wearing her mother’s slippers but they were bigger than her size, so while crossing the road in a hurry, she lost one of them and the other one was stolen by a boy. Her feet were red and frozen due to the cold.
This little girl is out in the streets to sell matches as ordered by her strict father. She could not manage to sell any since morning but could not return home, firstly, because her father would beat her and secondly, her poor home could not provide her any shelter from the cold winds. She was lured by the appetizing smells of food, spreading from a house.
The low temperature made it impossible for her to carry on further so she curled herself up in a corner between two buildings and tucked her feet underneath herself. To keep herself warm she decided to light up one match. The lightning of the match carries her into a world of imagination. She imagines a large iron stove and tries to feel the warmth coming from it. But suddenly it disappears with the match.
The little girl’s next vision, which she sees on lighting the next match, is of a beautiful stuffed goose dinner. Suddenly, the goose hopped out from the dish with the knife and fork still in its breast and reached upto the little girl. But again the match goes out and the scene disappears.
In the next vision she finds herself sitting under the most beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Then the girl sees the falling star and thinks to herself that someone is dying because once her grandmother had told that a falling star meant that someone was going to heaven. She finally visualizes her beloved grandmother and continues to light matches, one after the other, to keep her in sight. The next day, she was found dead and frozen with a smiling face. Everyone talked about her attempts to keep herself warm but no one knew that she died a peaceful death while having happy visions and about her joining her beloved grandmother in heaven.
The Little Match Girl Summary Word Meanings:
1. Hitherto : Until now
2. Scuffled away : Moved quickly with short steps
3. Dreadfully : Very bad or unpleasant
4. Urchin : A usually poor and dirty child
5. Farthing : A former British coin with a value equal to one quarter of a penny
6. Gleaming : Shining
7. Cowered : Moved back or crouched especially for shelter
8. Venture : To risk
9. Numbed : Without sensation
10. Burnished : Polished
11. Porcelain : A hard, white substance made by baking clay, used for making utensils
12. Reeled : Whirled, moved round and round
13. Trail : A path through a forest, field
14. Lustre : Gleam, shine
The Little Match Girl Summary Question and Answer
How is the setting in the story, the cold and darkness, symbolic of the girl’s isolation and sadness?
The weather was extremely cold and it was completely dark. It was the last evening of the year, the snow was falling heavily and everything seemed to be freezing. The sly was covered with dark clouds. It was a chilling environment, and it seemed that the people preferred to stay indoors due to shivering cold. The atmosphere was ‘ gloomy and somewhat scary.
‘The little match girl, as the author calls her, is barefoot and bear headed. She is out in the chilling cold selling matches. She belonged to a very poor family. She couldn’t go back to her house because her father would scold her for being unsuccessful in selling the matches. Her house too could not protect her against the cold for they had nothing but the roof above them with holes stuffed with straws and rags. She chose to freeze in the cold rather than return back home. This shows that the cold gloomy weather truly symbolised her sad, miserable life.
Throw a light on the visions of the little girl in the story’, ‘A Little Match Girl.’
‘The Little Match Girl’ by Hans Christian Anderson, is a story about a small girl no older than eleven, sent out to sell matches, which was earlier considered as a form of begging. It is the dead of winter and she has little to keep herself warm. Her ill-fitting shoes had been taken from her and with the fear of going home only to be beaten for her unsuccessful sales, she curls up in the cold. As she is struggling to keep warm all she can contemplate is the thought of lighting one small match. As she does so, she is filled with feelings of warmth and safety. She sees a vision of a large iron stove. Hallucinations are one of the symptoms of severe hypothermia, which indicates that the girl is slowly drifting away. But as the match stick burns off, the stove disappears and comes into consciousness.
The second vision describes a magical New Years Eve feast. A goose dancing with knife and fork in its breast. This vision shows how hungry the small girl truly is, and if she doesn’t freeze she will surely starve. The third vision of the night, is a magnificent Christmas tree. It is brightly lit and beautifully decorated. The story describes bright coloured pictures looking down on her. As the colours and lights rise, and the tree disappears, the stars become visible, and it seems as though the lights from the tree have become the stars. The little girl then sees a star fall and claims that someone was dying, as her old grandmother had told.
The small girl drew another match and there her loving grandmother stood before her in the dark of the night with kind looks. The girl knew that if the match were to run out her grandmother would disappear just like all her other wonderful visions, so she struck the rest of the match sticks on the wall. The little girl pleads with her grandmother to take her back to heaven.
This shows that how truly close the little match girl is freezing to death and so the grandmother carries her in her arms with brightness and joy away from cold and hunger.The next morning the people found her frozen to death, matches in hand and a smile on her face. None is aware of the beautiful visions of the little girl and the splendor she has entered in.
The Little Match Girl Summary Extract Based Questions
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
(i) Who is ‘she’? Describe her condition? Why were the slippers not good for her?
(ii) How was the weather? What day was it? Identify the author of the story.
(iii) Why was the girl ‘the picture of misery’?
(iv) Why does the author say ’she did not think of her appearance now?
(v) Why didn’t the little girl go home? What did she do instead?
(i) ‘She’ is the poor little girl.
She was in a miserable state because she was out in the cold selling matches bareheaded and barefoot.
The slippers were not good for her because they had been her mother’s, so obviously they were much bigger in size. Also she had lost them while running across the street in order to escape from the carriages. One was lost and the other was stolen by a boy.
(ii) It was an extremely cold day and the snow was falling. It was getting dark.
It was New Year7s Eve. The author of the story is Hans Christian Anderson.
(iii) The poor girl lost her slippers, the only warmth she had. Her feet were red and frozen because the temperature was very low. In her old apron she carried many matches to sell but couldn’t manage to sell any. The hunger and cold increased minute by minute making her shiver.
(iv) The little girl was in a miserable state. She was moving around the streets in extreme weather, without any footwear or anything to cover her head. She was shivering. The snowflakes fell on her long golden hair which curled beautifully about her neck but she little cared for her looks and appearance. Her only concern was to sell the matchboxes somehow.
(v) The poor little girl did not dare to go home, firstly, because her father would surely beat her for being unable to sell any matches and earn a single penny. Secondly, at home too there was no respite from cold as they had nothing but the roof above them and the wind easily passed through the cracks. Instead, she huddled down in a heap in a corner between two houses and tucked her little legs up under her.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“If only she dared pull just one small match from the packet, strike it on the wall and warm her fingers.”
(i) Why did she think to pull one small match from the packet? How did it feel when it was lighted? Why was it a strange light?
(ii) What vision does she see the second time she lit the match?
(iii) To whom does the little girl say ‘oh, take me with you’? What kind of relation does she share with the
listener? What had this person told the little girl?
(iv) When did she see a star falling? What truth came to her on seeing it?
(v) Did the grandmother too vanish like the other visions, leaving her alone? What good luck did the New Year bring for the little girl?
(i) Though the girl huddled herself in a corner still she felt colder and colder. Her hands were almost numb with cold so she thought to pull one small match and light it. The match burnt with a splutter, giving out warmth. Its bright flame seemed like a tiny candle.
The light seemed strange and wonderful because the bright warm flame made the little maiden feel that she was sitting before a large iron stove with burnished brass knobs and brass ornaments. The fire burnt blissfully and warmed the girl comfortably which made her stretch out her legs to warm them too.
(ii) When she lit the second match the wall on which the light fell, became transparent like a veil, so that she could see inside the room. A snow-white table cloth was spread on the table, upon it lay splendid porcelain containing steaming roasted goose stuffed with prunes and apples. It was more captivating to watch the goose hop down from the dish, and waddle across the floor towards the girl, with knife and fork in its breast. Suddenly the match went off and the vision cleared. Only the thick, cold, damp wall was left behind.
(iii) The little girl says these words to her Grandmother whom she sees in the luster of the glowing match. Her grandmother was the only person who had loved her and was no more. She looked very gentle, kind and affectionate. She had told the little girl that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God.
(iv) When the girl struck the match for the third time, she found herself sitting under the most magnificent Christmas tree. It was much larger and more beautiful than the one which she had seen through the glass door in the rich merchant’s house. Numerous lights illuminated the green branches of the tree along with the gaily coloured balls.
As soon as she reached out for them, the match went out and the numerous candles on the Christmas tree ascended towards the sky turning into bright stars. One of them fell down leaving behind a trail of light. This made the girl believe that someone was dying. Her grandmother had told her that ‘whenever a star falls, a soul goes up to God.’
(v) The girl struck all the rest of the matches to keep her grandmother with her. The old lady took the little girl in her arms and carried her up towards heaven, away from cold, hunger or fear. The next morning, i.e., the New Year morning, the people found the little girl frozen to death. Though they sympathized with her but they were unaware of the beautiful things she had seen and the spender in which, she had entered with her grandmother. Thus, the New Year had brought heavenly joy and gladness for her.