Treasure Trove Short Stories Workbook Answers The Little Match Girl
The Little Match Girl Questions and Answers
What is the pathetic situation in which we find the poor little match girl ?
The protagonist of the story is a hapless and helpless girl whose miserable condition arouses our sense of pity. We see her suffer on a cold winter evening. It is bitterly cold, snow is falling and darkenss is gathering. What adds to her woes is that she has to walk bareheaded and barefooted through the streets. Her feet are swollen with the cold since she has lost both her slippers (her mother’s slippers which were too big for her small feet). She has not been able to sell a single packet of matches all through the day. Hence she is afraid of her father’s beating for not earning a single penny.
Bring out the irony in the statement Lights were shining in every window, and there was a glorious smell of roast goose in the street.”
Three cardinal principles of Christianity are : Faith, Hope and Charity. It is quite ironic that it is the New Year’s Eve and well-to-do people are celebrating the coming of the new year by lighting up their houses and organizing rich feasts. However, on the same evening a poor match girl is wandering bareheaded and barefooted through the streets. She is unable to sell even a single packet of matchsticks. There is nobody to take care of her. She is even afraid of getting a sound beating from her own father for not being able to earn a single penny all through the day. This shows the apathy and uncaring attitude of the rich people towards the poor. The story gives us the message of developing a truly charitable outlook for the betterment of society as a whole.
What is “the picture of misery” drawn by Hans Christian Anderson in his story “The Little Match Girl” ?
Hans Christian Anderson had a very unhappy childhood and many of his stories reflect this sadness, dealing with loss and death. “The Little Match Girl” is no exception. Here also we have a poor hapless and helpless girl who is a picture of misery. Set around Christmas, the story tells of a little girl who dies of cold and hunger on the street while the people are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ inside their warm, cosy homes. It is indeed pathetic. The poor match girl is unable to sell a single match box all through the day inspite of her best efforts. She does not dare to go home because she hasn’t earned a single penny and her father is sure to beat her up for that. Besides, it would be equally cold at home. There are large cracks in her house through which the cold wind blows persistently. Her thin hands are almost numb with cold. The height is when we are told that she thinks of warming her fingers with the help of her match-sticks.
Is there any trace of humour in the story “The Little Match Girl” written by Hans Christian Anderson ?
“The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Anderson is full of pathos. We are sad to know about the tragic death of the little Match Girl on the New Year’s Eve. However, there is a bit of humour in the beginning of the story. The writer tells us about the barefoot girl who had lost both her slippers on this cold evening. The slippers were too big for her tiny feet because they belonged to her mother. She was wearing them when she had left home on this particular morning. But as she ran across the street to escape from two fast driven carriages, one of the slippers was lost. A boy ran off with the other slipper saying that it would come in very handy as a cradle some day when he had children of his own. This amuses us though it is part of a grim story.
How does the Match Girl try desperately to shield herself against the cold wind ?
It is a bitterly cold evening. Snow is falling and darkness is slowly coming over the street. The poor Match Girl is walking bareheaded and barefoot through the streets. Snowflakes are falling on her long golden hair. When the cold becomes unbearable, she huddles down in a corner formed by two houses. She tries to tuck her little legs up, still she feels colder and colder. Her thin hands are almost numb with cold. Suddenly an idea flashes through her mind, though it is a childish, silly idea. She thinks of warming her numb fingers by pulling out a small match from a packet and striking it on the wall. This is enough to show that she has become desperate and is not in a position to think clearly and logically. The fact is that she is moving closer to her death.
“The Little Match girl” by Hans Christian Anderson is a curious blend of fact and fantasy. Do you agree ?
Answer: Anderson’s story entitled “The Little Match Girl” is a fine blend of fact and fantasy. The little hapless and helpless girl is representative of millions of such children all over the world. They have to put up with hunger, illness and misery. They struggle against the odds but their survival rate is quite low. They live in a world which remains a mute spectator to their miserable existence. There are homes and shelters for such unfortunate children yet a vast majority of such children are victims of society at large. The writer has blended this realism with fantasy in this story. The poor Match Girl tries to save herself from the cold wind by striking matches on the wall. As she strikes the first match, a strange light emanates from it. She finds herself sitting in front of a great iron stove with polished brass knobs. The fire burns so beautifully and gives out such a lovely warmth. But soon afterwards the flame goes out and the girl is back in the real cold world. In the second fantasy, the girl dreams of delicious roast goose. The goose hops down from the dish and waddles across the floor. In the third fantasy, the girl sees a Christmas tree laden with candles which turn into stars. In the next fantasy, the girl meets her grandmother who takes her in her arms and flies to the world of joy and glory.
These fantasies are, in fact, a kind of wish-fulfilment for the poor girl. She gets in her dream-world what she fails to get in her real life.
What happens when the Match Girl scratches the first matchstick on the wall ? What does it signify ?
When the Match Girl strikes the first matchstick for the first time, it splutters and is burnt with a bright flame. It looks like a tiny candle when she holds her hand over it. It is, indeed, a strange kind of light. It seems to the girl as if she were sitting in front of a great iron stove with polished brass knobs. It was a source of wonderful, lovely warmth. However, the flame goes out quickly, the stove vanishes and she finds herself sitting with the burnt match in her hand.
The little episode highlits the wish-fulfilment of the little Match Girl. All through the cold evening,the girl had been thinking of a cosy place where she could warm herself. This wish of the girl is fulfilled in a kind of dream or fantasy.
What is the girl’s experience when she strikes the matchstick for the second time ? What is the significance of what she sees ?
When the Match Girl strikes the third matchstick, it burns clearly, the bricks in the wall become transparent and she can clearly see into the dining room. A shining white cloth is spread on the table and fine China crockery is laid out. She can smell a roast goose, stuffed with prunes and apples. To her surprise, the goose hops down from the dish, waddles across the floor with knife and fork in its back and moves straight up to her. Then, suddenly, the vision is over. Nothing can be seen except the thick, cold wall.
The second fantasy shows how hungry the child is. She has been thinking of food all day long and now there is some kind of wish- fulfilment for her.
What is the girl’s experience when she strikes the third match and how can we interpret her fantasy that follows ?
When the Match Girl strikes the third matchstick, she finds herself sitting under the most beautiful Christmas tree. In the previous year, she had seen a lovely Christmas tree in a rich merchant’s house when she peered through a glass door. But today the Christmas tree looks much more lovely and charming. A thousand candles are stuck in the branches and bright- coloured balls are hanging down. The little girl is tempted and she tries to reach forward with both her hands.
Suddenly the vision changes. The match goes out and all the candles on the Christmas tree are transformed into lovely stars. One of the stars falls streaking the whole sky with light. She remembers the saying of her dead grandmother : “Whenever a star falls, a soul goes up to God.”
This fantasy makes us feel that the child is also imagining her imminent death and upward movement of her soul.
What is the girl’s experience when she strikes the fourth and remaining match- sticks ?
Answer: There is a sparkle of light when the Match Girl strikes the fourth matchstick. She can clearly see her gentle, kind and loving grandmother in the glow of the light. The girl cries out that her “granny” should take her along to her own world. She is afraid that her grandmother might vanish as the warm stove, the roast goose and the Christmas tree had vanished earlier. In her apprehension, she bums away all the matches in the packet in order to keep up the vision of her grandmother. This shows her deep attachment to her grandmother.
What is the consequence of burning all the remaining matches in her packet ?
The matches flare up with such blaze that it looks like broad day light. Her old grandmother looks extremely graceful and majestic in this light. She takes the little girl in her arms and flies away towards glory and joy. Now they were away from the real world of cold, hunger and fear. Both of them were safe and happy with God.
However, the next day dawns with bad news. The girl is found frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. She is found holding the matches and half a packet burnt near her. The passersby remark that she was evidently trying to warm herself.
Comment on the ending of the story. Is the ending happy or tragic ?
The story “The Little Match Girl” has a surprise ending. The little girl who is the protagonist of the story is frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. Before her death she had shifting visions of a warm stove, the lovely roast goose, the fine Christmas tree and finally the kind old grandmother. However, nobody knew about these beautiful visions and nobody could imagine that her old grandmother had taken her away to a world of heavenly joy. The people could only see her sitting in the corner formed by two houses. Her rosy cheeks and smiling lips might indicate that she had died in a blissful state. Perhaps the writer is giving a message through the story of the little Match Girl. It is possible that the writer thinks of the physical, material would as a house of sorrow and the spiritual, heavenly world as a house of joy. Whatever the truth may be, it is certainly a story with an unexpected, unpredictable ending.
The Little Match Girl Comprehension Passages
1. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
So the little girl walked about the streets on her naked feet, which were red and blue with the cold. In her old apron she carried a great many matches, and she had a packet of them in her hand as well. Nobody had bought any from her, and no one had given her a single penny all day. She crept along, shivering and hungry, the picture of misery, poor little thing!
(i) Describe the miserable condition of the little girl. What effect did the cold weather have on her ?
Answer: The little girl was poor and she walked bareheaded and barefoot in the cold weather through the streets. She was shivering in the cold and was hungry. Her naked feet had become red and blue with cold.
(ii) What did the poor girl carry with her ? Why did she walk about the streets ?
Answer: The poor girl carried a great many matches with her. She walked about the streets to sell the .matches to earn some money.
(iii) How did the little girl lose the slippers that she was wearing when she left her home ?
Answer: She lost them as she ran across the street to escape from two carriages that were being driven terribly fast.
(iv) Why didn’t she dare to go home ? How did her hands become numb ?
Answer: She did not dare to go home because she had sold no matches and earned not a single penny. She knew her father would surely beat her. Moreover it was cold at home because the roof had holes in it. Her hands became numb with cold.
(v) How could she warm her fingers ?
Answer: She could warm her fingers by striking a match on the wall.
2. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
She huddled down in a heap in a corner formed by two houses, one of which projected further out into the street than the other, but though she tucked her little legs up under her she felt colder and colder. She did not dare to go home, for she had sold no matches and earned not a single penny. Her father would be sure to beat her, and besides it was so cold at home, for they had nothing but the roof above them and the wind whistled through that, even though the largest cracks were stuffed with straw and rags. Her thin hands were almost numb with cold.
(i) What did the little girl do to escape the cold ?
Answer: She huddled down in a corner formed by two houses to escape the cold. She tucked her little feet underneath herself but still she grew colder and colder.
(ii) Why was she scared of her father ? When would her father beat her ?
Answer: She was scared of her father because he was very harsh, strict and cruel. Her father would beat her when she failed to sell the matches and earn money.
(iii) How were the largest cracks in the roof of the little girl’s house stuffed with ?
Answer: The largest cracks were stuffed with straw and rags.
(iv) What did the little girl do to warm her fingers ?
Answer: The little girl lit a match to warm her fingers.
(v) What did the fire produced by lighting a match give out ?
Answer: It gave out a warm, bright flame like a tiny candle and she held her hand over it.
3. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
She struck another—it burnt clearly and, where the light fell upon the wall, the bricks became transparent, like gauze. She could see right into the room, where a shining white cloth was spread on the table. It was covered with beautiful china and in the centre of it stood a roast goose, stuffed with prunes, and apples, steaming deliciously. And what was even more wonderful was that the goose hopped down from the dish, waddled across the floor with carving knife and fork in its back, waddled straight up to the poor child !
(i) How did the little girl feel in the bright flame of the burning match ?
Answer: She felt as if she were sitting in front of a great iron stove with polished brass knobs and brass ornaments. The fire gave out a lovely warmth to her.
(ii) What did she find when the flame went out ?
Answer: She found that the stove had vanished when the flame went out.
(iii) What did she visualize when she lit another match ?
Answer: She visualized a table in a room on which was laid a cooked goose, stuffed with prunes and apples, steaming deliciously.
(iv) What did she see when the match went out ?
Answer: She saw nothing but the thick, cold wall.
(v) What did she visualize when she lit another match ?
Answer: She visualized that she was sitting under the most beautiful Christmas tree.
4. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
She struck another match, and suddenly she was sitting under the most beautiful Christmas tree. It was much larger and much lovelier than the one she had seen last year through the glass doors of the rich merchant’s house. A thousand candles lit up the green branches, and gaily coloured balls like those in the shop windows looked down upon her. The little girl reached forward with both hands— then, out went the match.
(i) When did the stove vanish from the little girl’s sight ?
Answer: The stove that she had visualized in the light of the burning match vanished when the flame of the match went out.
(ii) What did she visualize when she lit another match ?
Answer: She visualized that she was sitting under the most beautiful Christmas tree. It was much larger and lovelier than the one she had seen last year through the glass doors of the rich merchant’s house.
(iii) What did she visualize on the Christmas tree ?
Answer: She visualized that thousands of candles were burning on the green branches and little painted figures, like she had seen in shop windows, looked down on her.
(iv) What did she notice about the candle on the Christmas tree ?
Answer: She noticed that the candles on the Christmas tree rose higher and higher through the air and had now turned into bright stars.
(v) What had the little girl’s grandmother told her about the star when it fell ?
Answer: Her grandmother had told her that whenever a star fell, a soul went up to God.
The Little Match Girl Assignment
1. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
The little girl reached forward with both hands – then, out went the match. The many candles on the Christmas tree rose higher and higher through the air, and she saw that they had now turned into bright stars. One of them fell, streaking the sky with light.
“Now someone is dying,” said the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever been good to her but who was now dead, had said, “Whenever a star falls, a soul goes up to God.”
(i) How was the Christmas tree that she visualized better than the one she had seen : last year through the glass doors of a rich merchant’s house ?
(ii) What change did she observe in the candles on the Christmas tree that she imagined ?
(iii) What had the little girl’s grandmother told her about the star when it fell ?
(iv) How did the little girl’s grandmother look when she visualized her after lighting another match ?
(v) What did the little girl tell her grandmother ? Why did she quickly strike all the matches she had in the packet ?
2. (a) Can we sum up the theme of Hans Christian Anderson’s story “The Little Match Girl” by saying that it is a story about “the need for compassion for those who have so much less than we do”?
(b) Bring out the use of irony, imagery and symbols in the story “The Little Match Girl.”
(c) Does the story “The Little Match Girl” have a universal appeal ?