Thursday’s Tale: The Star Talers

the star talers

Another Grimm tale today. “The Star Talers” tells of a poor, unfortunate girl who is rewarded for her selflessness. A taler, by the way, was a silver coin first minted in 1519.

A little orphan girl was so poor all she had was a crust of bread and the clothes on her back, no room, no bed, nothing. But, of course, the girl is good and devout and trusted in God and headed out into the countryside. Notice it’s not the woods, rather the countryside. Maybe she won’t run into any of the trouble that comes to children who wander into the Grimms’ woods.

First she meets a poor, hungry man and she gives him all her bread. Then she meets a child whose head is cold, so she gives the child her hat. A second child is freezing so she gives the child her jacket. She gives another child her dress.It’s dark when she runs into a final child who asks for her shift, which she gives the child since it’s dark and no one will see her anyway. She has given away everything she has and is standing outside with absolutely nothing. Then stars begin to fall from the sky and they are shiny new coins. Even though she had given away her shift, she now wears a new one made of fine linen. She gathers all the coins and is rich for the rest of her life.

The girl is a standard fairy tale heroine, a good, presumably lovely, girl, who has to fend for herself. The sharing/giving away food is common, too, although rarely are they asked to give away everything, even every stitch of clothing. She does get her reward, though, enough riches to last her whole life. THis one doesn’t have a villain. It’s rather refreshing to have a tale with not punishment at the end. Or maybe that’s boring.

I read the story in The Annotated Brothers Grimm edited by Maria Tatar.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.

10 Comments

    • It’s kind of reminiscent of the Little Match Girl from Andersen, expect that girl dies and goes to heaven with her grandmother. In both cases, though, the little girl doesn’t have any more worries. I prefer this one, Andersen can get a little preachy sometimes.

  1. Anachronist

    That was boring and a bit stupid. If you are very poor why somebody or something should demand of you giving away your very last possessions ? Just to prove you can? Sadistic.

    Of course you can argue that the girl was somehow ‘reborn’ by her acts of charity (we are born naked, not needing anything) and she became a better person (but hey, she had been good even before!) but still I am not buying it.

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