Monday, July 23, 2012

The Death of the Hen

Oh, I love stories like The Death of the Hen... HILARIOUS - and so easy to improvise endlessly, imagining all kinds of animals and inanimate objects who could play their part. Plus Crane's illustrations are brilliant - just look at the poor dead hen's chicken feet sticking up out of her burial mound. Ha!

So the cock was left all alone with the dead hen, and he digged a grave and laid her in it, and he raised a mound above her, and sat himself down and lamented so sore that at last he died. And so they were all dead together.


  1. I've hardly even paid attention to the pictures--probably because I'm just not used to it and also because I'm reading it on my computer rather than a physical copy and that's making me take it less seriously, I think. Thanks for pointing this out! The picture of the feet sticking out of the burial mound is fantastic! I'll definitely need to start paying closer attention.

  2. Walter Crane is one of my favorite illustrators of all time, and he is always including wonderful little details. I'm sure you will have fun looking at the images and finding the surprises there! I've been wondering if as they selected the stories to include in the book whether or not the picked them based on the ones that would be the most fun to illustrate.

    1. The illustrations are what makes these tales fantastic. There is some symbolism in the hen's feet sticking straight up after she dies as well as from the mound in which she is buried. I love the illustration of the mice carrying the wagon with both the hen and cock. I guess it is true that you can get by with a little help from your friends.

    2. Pamela, so true about friends, ha ha - and of course the world of fairy tales is FILLED with magical helpers. Often animals! Of the many topics I saw floating around the class discussion board, I didn't see that anybody was focusing on the topic of magical helpers/friends in the fairy tales... it's a big part of what moves the plots of so many of the stories forward! :-)

  3. Interesting part that I missed at the beginning is a bride and her lost garland hanging on a willow. Has it refers to sexuality? And why is the brook so badly-behaved (killed animals and didn't help the cock in troubles)?

  4. I don't think there is a lot of "why?" in terms of psychological motivation that goes on in folktales. The psychological development of characters, personal motivation, etc. is something more typical of novels, not folktales. As for sexuality, I'm not a big fan of turning everything into a sexual symbol; to my way of thinking that is making the story into an allegory. There's no law against it, of course - but it's not what's on my mind when I enjoy a traditional folktale like this one.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.