Hello, two-legged readers. It’s Lucinda, with my next book summary/review. This week I will write about “The Ugly Duckling.”
To give you an idea of the challenge I have with reading and writing: I did not know what a duckling was, and had to look it up. I thought it might be some new animal, but the word means “baby duck.” Now I had a better idea of what the story was about.
“The Ugly Duckling,” by Hans Christian Anderson, is a well-known story in children’s literature. After reading it, I can see that it has a powerful message, useful to many.
In the story, a young swan is hatched from an egg in a duck’s nest. When the baby hatched, the others in the brood all noticed that this duckling was different. His markings and color were not like the others that had hatched.
Because he was different, he was humiliated in many ways. He was abused by the others. He ended up not trusting himself. He thought he was worthless, so he left the duck family.
Have you ever been criticized or rejected because of your looks? It seems to be true both of two-leggeds and four-leggeds. We often make judgments based on outer appearance. We do not bother to look at the inner virtues of others.
If you are in some way rejected by others because of how you look, you might find it hard to function in a world where nobody understands you. No wonder the poor duckling ran away.
These ducks lived near a house surrounded by meadows and lakes. Their nest was located in some greenery near the water’s edge.
The mother patiently waited for all the eggs to hatch. They all hatched except for the largest egg. An old timer told the mother to forget that egg because it was a turkey. She should leave it because little turkeys cause trouble.
However, the mother waited. When our hero finally emerged, the mother was pleased because he entered the water and started swimming. The mother was then very happy because she knew turkeys could not swim.
The duckling’s upbringing was so different from mine. It is hard for me to imagine our mother urging us into the water right after we were born. For that matter, these creatures were hatched, which involves the mother laying an egg, then sitting on it to keep it warm until it becomes big enough to come out of the shell.
How does it know when it is time to emerge? Does the egg get too small? Maybe you are expected to swim right away if you are hatched from an egg. I am not sure, but will have to research that question further.
As time went by, the other ducklings started picking on their ugly brother. They would nip him, or chase him, or make nasty duck remarks. They even started calling him a freak.
I have seen some examples of this negative behavior, not so much in my own family, because we all got along well. There were issues, however, among our neighbor’s chickens. I used to go to the pen and watch them, as they fascinated me.
There was one chicken that the others didn’t like, for some reason. They would chase her and pull out her feathers. There were sores on her body from being pecked by the others. Unfortunately for her, she could not leave the pen and had to endure the treatment. How sad and terrible.
Unfortunately, I find it easy to see such behavior among the two-leggeds. For some reason many of them seem to be more content if they can criticize someone else.
I think this book is trying to make young two-leggeds aware of this behavior while they are still young enough to change. Perhaps they can be taught not to get involved in such negativity. I am not sure the story has done much good.
The ugly duckling at least had the freedom to run away from the humiliation and suffering. Then he found that it was also hard to deal with loneliness. He got hungry and thirsty, and had to learn how to take care of himself.
He has a dangerous encounter with hunters and dogs, but manages to escape. He returns to the house in the meadow for a time, but the old two-legged woman who lives there is waiting for more ducks to hatch. He runs away again.
The sad story of this poor duckling’s youth makes me think with compassion about how many of my cat cousins are homeless, living on what they can find and trying to avoid the dangers of living with no two-legged sponsor.
No wonder so many of my kind who are homeless work to find a two-legged to their liking. Then they can perhaps charm that one into adopting them and giving them the home they desire. It is a dangerous world out there for a homeless cat.
After a year passes, the duckling looks into the water at his reflection and is astounded to see that he has transformed into the most beautiful swan imaginable. Then, he finally finds happiness after all his troubles.
It is interesting that the Merriam-Webster dictionary even has a definition of the phrase, ugly duckling. It means one that appears very unpromising but often has great potential.
That is a definition that I like, as I believe it important that we all believe in ourselves. We may find that we can accomplish much more than we ever thought possible. After all, I have learned to read and write. Maybe I can learn to fly next. Now, that would be most wonderful!
If you would like to purchase a copy of this book, The Ugly Duckling, here is a hard-cover copy that you might enjoy. Click on the book image or on the highlighted title and you will be taken to the place where you can purchase it. Please note: As an Amazon associate, I may earn a small commission from your purchase.
by Hans Christian Anderson
8 thoughts on “Lucinda Brings Us The Ugly Duckling Summary”
Great summary of the story and how it is a metaphor for real life. As an adult I’m quite often shocked by how dark some children’s stories are. I always found this story a bit challenging in that to be happy in the end, he had to become “beautiful”. An absolute classic of a children’s book nonetheless, I might pick up a copy through that link. Got me thinking about other kid’s stories now!
Thanks for your comment. I like your statement about the challenge being that he had to be beautiful to be happy. You could interpret it that way, but I think it’s more about not accepting anyone who is different. In Lucinda’s next review, you will see a different interpretation of “ugly.” It’s called “The Ugly Five” and is about the five ugliest animals in Africa. Watch for it, as it is an interesting contrast to this book.
I haven’t heard this story in so long, I almost forgot what happened. Its crazy to think how old this story is and yet how very prevalent it still is. There are times where everyone feels like an outcast and initially it’s a bad feeling. We then try to avoid being an outcast by copying the people who have the life we think we want. Then we get lost again. We do this over and over until we become more and more lost. Then we find ourselves back where we started. This time with some scar tissue and some life experience under our belt. Then we begin paving our own path and creating a unique life that is ours.
Thanks for the awesome synopsis and review. It made my day.
Michael, I am so glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, it sometimes takes a while for us to realize that we cannot change anything if we keep doing the same thing over and over. At some point, we need to head out on our own and see what’s in the world. I think that’s the point this book presents so well.
A lot of us can relate to the life of the ugly duckling. It is never easy when you are different in any way. It can lead to people judging or treating you like you are some type of alien that is not of this world. This can lead to shrinking one’s self and trying to stay below the radar to attract less attention.
It can also make you start losing confidence in yourself and your abilities. The moment you accept yourself and what makes it different, you would begin to notice that the level of your confidence would start increasing.
You really got the message. I think many folks just skim over the meaning. Yes, if you are different it is a sign that you are unique, as are we all. Rejoice in that difference! That is the thing about you that might make you succeed. Embrace the difference, and know it is your right to believe in yourself.
I am sure Lucinda would agree.
Being one of only two redheads in my school when I was growing up and having freckles to boot, not to mention being very poor, I am very aware of the phenomenon called pecking order; But, you know, sometimes we put ourselves down in the pecking order and only imagine that it is others doing it. In any case my experiences, good and bad, have made me who I am and I like who I am and you should like who you are too. You are unique. Why in the world would you want to look or be like everyone else? If someone is pecking on you they are the ones with the problem, not you. You intimidate them for some reason. We’ve all been intimidated by someone, but you know how I overcome these feelings? I tell myself, Teri, you have two options. You can be intimidated or you can be inspired. Until we learn to overcome the fear of being less valuable in some way than others there will always be isms, classism, racism, sexism and war and that is heartbreaking. We are here on this planet to learn from each other and to love each other. Fran, I have learned so much from you about how to take care of cats and in this post that there are cats out there who are homeless and need to be rescued. The main thing outdoor cats have to worry about is dogs, because cats are very skilled hunters. And outdoor cats keep the rodent population down too. They go down into the sewers and into the woods to stay warm. They are a lot smarter than dogs when it comes to survival, in my opinion.
Maybe that’s why they often turn their noses up at dogs and maybe that’s why dogs so often hate them, because they appear to them to be so arrogant. Lol
What you say is true, Teri. I am glad this post triggered some reminders of past times and how you overcame the negativity. That is so important for us to do. I, too, think cats are smarter, but don’t tell — I don’t want to make my friends with dogs too upset with me.