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AlicehaversPeaBlossom

The sick girl, her mother and the pea blossom. 19th century illustration by Alice Havers.

"Five Peas from a Pod" (Danish: "Fem fra en Ærtenbælg"; also published in English as "Five Peas from One Pod", "Five Out of One Pod", "Five Out of One Shell", "Five in a Pod" and "The Pea Blossom") is a short story for children by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. It was first published in 1852. The story contains some fantasy elements and has strong religious overtones.

In the story, some peas begin to tire of remaining inside their pod and long to get out into the world. Two of them have ambitions to travel far and achieve glory. One of the peas, however, has no particular ambitions and is prepared to accept whatever destiny fate has in store for him. It is that pea which ends up bringing comfort and hope to a seriously ill girl and her mother.

Plot

As a pod and the peas inside it grow, the first pea says that he is tired of simply sitting still. He asks when he will get out and see the world. The fifth pea is unconcerned about the future and says, "Let happen what may."

Some time later, the pod is opened by a boy who plans to put all of the peas in his pea shooter. The first pea wonders which of them will travel the farthest. The fifth pea again says, "Let happen what may". The first pea is excited about being shot out of the pea shooter. The second and third peas are feeling lazy. They are happy when they fall onto the ground and hope to stay there. Nevertheless, they are shot out of the pea shooter too. The fourth pea is very excited about being put in the pea shooter and says that he will go all the way to the sun. Before the fifth pea is fired out of the pea shooter, he again says, "Let happen what may." He lands in some moss and soil inside a crack on an outside windowsill. He remains there for a long time, unseen by everyone except God.

The windowsill where the pea lands is outside the bedroom window of a girl. The girl lives with her mother, an old woman who remains poor in spite of being very hard working. The girl has been seriously ill and has not been out of bed for an entire year. The old woman had another younger daughter who died. She fears that her one remaining daughter will die also.

Pea blossom red

Pea blossom.

One spring morning, the girl notices a green thing at her window. The old woman realizes that a pea plant has taken root there. She tells her daughter that she now has a little garden and moves the girl's bed closer to the window. In the evening, the girl says that she believes that she is getting better. She enjoyed watching the sunlight make the pea plant strong that day and longs to go out into the sunshine again herself. The old woman does not truly believe that watching the pea plant is making her daughter get better. Nevertheless, she ties a stick to the pea plant so that it will not be blown over by the wind. The pea plant curls around the stick and grows tall.

The old woman is pleased to see a single blossom on the pea plant one morning. She thinks about how her daughter's health has been improving recently. The following week, the girl gets out of bed, goes to the open window and kisses the pea plant. The old woman becomes convinced that the pea plant was put beneath the window by God to bring hope to her and her daughter and health to the girl.

The story concludes with a description of the fate of the other four peas. The first pea, who wanted to travel far, and the two lazy peas are eaten by pigeons. The fourth pea, who said he would go to the sun, lands in a gutter full of dirty water. The water goes inside the pea and makes it swell up to an enormous size before it bursts. The gutter maintains that the pea which landed inside it was more glorious than the one which grew into the sick girl's pea plant.

See also

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