The Steadfast Tin Man

By Jean Hersholt

Originated by Hans Christian Anderson


There were once five-and-twenty tin soldiers. They were all brothers, born of the same old tin spoon. They shouldered their muskets and looked straight ahead of them, splendid in their uniforms, all red and blue.

The very first thing in the world that they heard was, "Tin soldiers!" A small boy shouted it and clapped his hands as the lid was lifted off their box on his birthday. He immediately set them up on the table.

All the soldiers looked exactly alike except one. He looked a little different as he had been cast last of all. The tin was short, so he had only one leg. But there he stood, as steady on one leg as any of the other soldiers on their two. But just you see, he'll be the remarkable one.

On the table with the soldiers were many other playthings, and one that no eye could miss was a marvelous castle of cardboard. It had little windows through which you could look right inside it. And in front of the castle were miniature trees around a little mirror supposed to represent a lake. The wax swans that swam on its surface were reflected in the mirror. All this was very pretty but prettiest of all was the little lady who stood in the open doorway of the castle. Though she was a paper doll, she wore a dress of the fluffiest gauze. A tiny blue ribbon went over her shoulder for a scarf, and in the middle of it shone a spangle that was as big as her face. The little lady held out both her arms, as a ballet dancer does, and one leg was lifted so high behind her that the tin soldier couldn't see it at all, and he supposed she must have only one leg, as he did.

"That would be a wife for me," he thought. "But maybe she's too grand. She lives in a castle. I have only a box, with four-and-twenty roommates to share it. That's no place for her. But I must try to make her acquaintance." Still as stiff as when he stood at attention, he lay down on the table behind a snuffbox, where he could admire the dainty little dancer who kept standing on one leg without ever losing her balance.

When the evening came the other tin soldiers were put away in their box, and the people of the house went to bed. Now the toys began to play among themselves at visits, and battles, and at giving balls. The tin soldiers rattled about in their box, for they wanted to play too, but they could not get the lid open. The nutcracker turned somersaults, and the slate pencil squeaked out jokes on the slate. The toys made such a noise that they woke up the canary bird, who made them a speech, all in verse. The only two who stayed still were the tin soldier and the little dancer. Without ever swerving from the tip of one toe, she held out her arms to him, and the tin soldier was just as steadfast on his one leg. Not once did he take his eyes off her.

Then the clock struck twelve and - clack! - up popped the lid of the snuffbox. But there was no snuff in it, no-out bounced a little black bogey, a jack-in-the-box.

"Tin soldier," he said. "Will you please keep your eyes to yourself?" The tin soldier pretended not to hear.

The bogey said, "Just you wait till tomorrow."

But when morning came, and the children got up, the soldier was set on the window ledge. And whether the bogey did it, or there was a gust of wind, all of a sudden the window flew open and the soldier pitched out headlong from the third floor. He fell at breathtaking speed and landed cap first, with his bayonet buried between the paving stones and his one leg stuck straight in the air. The housemaid and the little boy ran down to look for him and, though they nearly stepped on the tin soldier, they walked right past without seeing him. If the soldier had called, "Here I am!" they would surely have found him, but he thought it contemptible to raise an uproar while he was wearing his uniform.

Soon it began to rain. The drops fell faster and faster, until they came down by the bucketful. As soon as the rain let up, along came two young rapscallions.

"Hi, look!" one of them said, "there's a tin soldier. Let's send him sailing."

They made a boat out of newspaper, put the tin soldier in the middle of it, and away he went down the gutter with the two young rapscallions running beside him and clapping their hands. High heavens! How the waves splashed, and how fast the water ran down the gutter. Don't forget that it had just been raining by the bucketful. The paper boat pitched, and tossed, and sometimes it whirled about so rapidly that it made the soldier's head spin. But he stood as steady as ever. Never once flinching, he kept his eyes front, and carried his gun shoulder-high. Suddenly the boat rushed under a long plank where the gutter was boarded over. It was as dark as the soldier's own box.

"Where can I be going?" the soldier wondered. "This must be that black bogey's revenge. Ah! if only I had the little lady with me, it could be twice as dark here for all that I would care."

Out popped a great water rat who lived under the gutter plank.

"Have you a passport?" said the rat. "Hand it over."

The soldier kept quiet and held his musket tighter. On rushed the boat, and the rat came right after it, gnashing his teeth as he called to the sticks and straws:

"Halt him! Stop him! He didn't pay his toll. He hasn't shown his passport. "But the current ran stronger and stronger. The soldier could see daylight ahead where the board ended, but he also heard a roar that would frighten the bravest of us. Hold on! Right at the end of that gutter plank the water poured into the great canal. It was as dangerous to him as a waterfall would be to us.

He was so near it he could not possibly stop. The boat plunged into the whirlpool. The poor tin soldier stood as staunch as he could, and no one can say that he so much as blinked an eye. Thrice and again the boat spun around. It filled to the top - and was bound to sink. The water was up to his neck and still the boat went down, deeper, deeper, deeper, and the paper got soft and limp. Then the water rushed over his head. He thought of the pretty little dancer whom he'd never see again, and in his ears rang an old, old song:

"Farewell, farewell, O warrior brave,

Nobody can from Death thee save."

And now the paper boat broke beneath him, and the soldier sank right through. And just at that moment he was swallowed by a most enormous fish.

My! how dark it was inside that fish. It was darker than under the gutter-plank and it was so cramped, but the tin soldier still was staunch. He lay there full length, soldier fashion, with musket to shoulder.

Then the fish flopped and floundered in a most unaccountable way. Finally it was perfectly still, and after a while something struck through him like a flash of lightning. The tin soldier saw daylight again, and he heard a voice say, "The Tin Soldier!" The fish had been caught, carried to market, bought, and brought to a kitchen where the cook cut him open with her big knife.

She picked the soldier up bodily between her two fingers, and carried him off upstairs. Everyone wanted to see this remarkable traveler who had traveled about in a fish's stomach, but the tin soldier took no pride in it. They put him on the table and-lo and behold, what curious things can happen in this world-there he was, back in the same room as before. He saw the same children, the same toys were on the table, and there was the same fine castle with the pretty little dancer. She still balanced on one leg, with the other raised high. She too was steadfast. That touched the soldier so deeply that he would have cried tin tears, only soldiers never cry. He looked at her, and she looked at him, and never a word was said. Just as things were going so nicely for them, one of the little boys snatched up the tin soldier and threw him into the stove. He did it for no reason at all. That black bogey in the snuffbox must have put him up to it.

The tin soldier stood there dressed in flames. He felt a terrible heat, but whether it came from the flames or from his love he didn't know. He'd lost his splendid colors, maybe from his hard journey, maybe from grief, nobody can say.

He looked at the little lady, and she looked at him, and he felt himself melting. But still he stood steadfast, with his musket held trim on his shoulder.

Then the door blew open. A puff of wind struck the dancer. She flew like a sylph, straight into the fire with the soldier, blazed up in a flash, and was gone. The tin soldier melted, all in a lump. The next day, when a servant took up the ashes she found him in the shape of a little tin heart. But of the pretty dancer nothing was left except her spangle, and it was burned as black as a coal.


About a tin soldier who just gets bought with many other soldiers and is kind of crippled in his own way. The tin man has only one leg and that leg is sort of his remeberance that he should try harder. When the Tin Man is set free he sees this paper ballerina, that looks like she only has one leg and falls madly in love with her. The toys are alive abd wild at night, so the soldiers get out of the boxes that the boy has placed them in. The Tin Man and Pretty Dancer haven't actually spoken, but it was like that unspoken love that made it all richer. The Bogey man toy sees how the love is flourishing and blossoming between the two and threatens to hurt him the next day. The next day rolls around and the odd Tin Man is placed on the window shelf and it was really windy that day so the window flies open and knocks the Tin Man out the door and into the ground. The boy looks for the Tin Man but with no luck they go back inside. Later that day, after a nasty rain flood, some kids see the soldier lying on the ground. They decide to take the soldier and make a paper boat so it could sail in the puddles. Well, this wasn't the best idea, since it was extremely wet the Tin Man slid into a gutter that they were near was chased by rats because he didn't have a pass through the sewers and he went down into a whirlpool which led to the ocean, I presume. I'm the ocean he is swallowed by a fish and then the fish is caught and sold in the market. Remarkably the fish that has the soldier inside it's belly was bought by the women that cares for the Small Boy. So when the women that took care of the Small Boy cuts open the fish she finds the Tin Man sitting there and gives it to the boy. The soldier has once again returned to the Pretty Dancer and love is rekindled. The Bogey Man, sharp on his word follows through with his threat and makes the Small Boy throw the Tin Man onto the stove and melt, but not before seeing the Pretty Dancer get pushed into the stove next to him and burn to ash in seconds. The Tin Man was warm from the love and the flames as he melted away with nothing left but a heart of his plastic and a spangle from the Pretty Dancer


I'm not really focusing on characterization but what I got from the story was third person.

The movement was linear and followed straight through to the very end. There was no flash backs. The Tin Man may have thought about the Pretty Dancer, but that's it. What I understood from the books was that it was a but a toys journey. What happens when we lose a toy when playing outside and what it goes through, even though we may never get it back.

"The very first thing in the world that they heard was, "Tin soldiers!" A small boy shouted it and clapped his hands as the lid was lifted off their box on his birthday. He immediately set them up on the table." --I chose this quote because it demonstrates the beginning when the Tin Man first arrives and catches the first glance of their lives. 

"And whether the bogey did it, or there was a gust of wind, all of a sudden the window flew open and the soldier pitched out headlong from the third floor." --This quote is depicting when Tin Man's life is starting to change, once more.

As a writer...

As a writer, you need to make it really clear and obvious on where your story is going to go. Be sure to not confuse the reader on where you're going with the story. Remember, just because it makes sense to you, does not mean it will make sense to the reader. Due to experience, I know first hand.


Tin Man

Pretty Dancer

Small Boy

Bogey Man

Water Rat

Two Young Rapscallians

As a writer...

As a writer each character must be unique, just like you and me. My model that I stand by is Hans Anderson, and his characters are known for being rambunctious, like, Ariel in the Little Mermaid. Or the Little Duckling. To most, or all writers there are connections that are not only close to the author but to the reader too, because of the different personalities.


"Out popped a great water rat who lived under the gutter plank.Have you a passport?" said the rat. "Hand it over."

The soldier kept quiet and held his musket tighter. On rushed the boat, and the rat came right after it, gnashing his teeth as he called to the sticks and straws:" 

This explains how after Tin Man was taken from the yard and placed into the paper boat, he has waved into the gutters and was demanded by Water Rat, who acted as the guard of the sewers, to show a pass to advance on.

As a writer... 

Imagery is about knowing what the scene looks like, or understanding the actions that the character is motioning forward to do. When expressing to the reader what you see, you must give away enough detail, without spoon feeding to the reader, which will become tedious and boring. How do you do it? You visualize what you want to happen and you write the details that best describe or explain what is going on. Excersizes could include the observation activity with the movie, pictures or conversations. You could also observe the outside and the way it wakes up in the morning.


"It had little windows through which you could look right inside it. And in front of the castle were miniature trees around a little mirror supposed to represent a lake. The wax swans that swam on its surface were reflected in the mirror." This gave me a place, the child's room, and what it looked like. Describing the windows and the other toys.

As a writer

As a writer, the setting is the background, the place, area..etc. It is important to express the area as specific as you want the reader to see. This is where the reader begins, what they usually see first, above all. As it is important to show your place, you're not going to repeat the place over and over, because that will drag unecessary detail, that should not be shown. As the author, yes, you must express where the place is, but you must let the readers imagination. 


The story was none like any other than that I have read. This story did not have a protagonist, nobody that was a hero that seems the girl and got a kiss. None where it saved the person and got the bad guy. This story was similar to life, how not everyone will be known, not everyone will be said on a high pedestal so the world can view it and admire your glory. The story was more of hard fact. Realism in its finest. Not everyone will remember you, or even know if you, but it only appears great to the ones that do. It doesn't matter how people view you, like it didn't matter to the Tin Man of the Bogey Man. Some people may think of you as fantastic or failure, but it only matters to what you think of yourself.

Another idea that I pulled from the story was that we all have our own journeys. Our own paths. We all walk on a different lane and fight different battles, but in the end, what matters is the actions that we took to get where we are, as an individual. It doesn't matter of how our life ends; It matters with how we go about getting there. Don't welcome death, but don't fear so much where we die a lost cause, with nothing below our names; Nothing to show for it. Follow through the childish goals, or too high to reach. Actions, thoughts, emotions all are unexpected and don't always end the same way they first began. Many people change their justifiable means with another reason. What matters not the ending but the middle, beginning and ending. What I mean by this is that people should stop thinking about their life as three different parts, and instead as one. All parts swerve into each other until there is nothing left. Don't be stuck on on one part.

As a writer...

Most writers, in fact, maybe all writers, have some clear or unclear message to them. it honestly, depends on what you see; what you envision as you write that million dollar, known to every man, book. Most of Hans Fairy tale books are clear with bright endings. Going back to The Little Mermaid; follow your dreams. The Ugly Duckling; you are beautiful in and out. Now, because these are obvious messages and the times for change and transitioning are happening, an the world is facing new problems; It is your job, as a writer to introduce the new ideas, get your reader more interested and liven up the stories. After a while, relaying the same message over and over gets really old and repetitive. The reader sees no reason to take the time to get engulfed in your story. No money.

Hans Christian Anderson

"Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark, on April 2, 1805. Andersen achieved worldwide fame for writing innovative and influential fairy tales. Many of his stories, including "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Princess and the Pea," remain classics of the genre.."

" Andersen's work first gained recognition in 1829, with the publication of a short story entitled "A Journey on Foot from Holmes's Canal to the East Point of Amager." He followed this with the publication of a play, a book of poetry and a travelogue. The promising young author won a grant from the king, allowing him to travel across Europe and further develop his body of work. A novel based on his time in Italy, The Improvisation, was published in 1835. The same year, Andersen began producing fairy tales."

Surprisingly he wasn't well known for his children books that he is now most famous for. Anderson also knew Charles Dickens, they were friends.

Jean Hersholt

Jean Hersholt (1886-1956) was a Danish actor who emigrated to the United States, making himself a career in Hollywood as from 1913. He translated Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales and stories in the excellent edition The Complete Andersen (six volumes, New York 1949. He translated for one of the standard languages, called English. Hersholt felt a connection to the H.C Anderson world and write several articles on the matter. The Complete Andersen includes first prints (they had never been printed in Danish, either) of no less than three fairy tales: Folks say .., The Poor Woman and the little Canary Bird, and Urban's, the edition also includes The Pigs from the travel book In Sweden among the travel books, and the novel Lucky Peer which may also with all reason be called a fairy tale novel. Normally, Lucky Peer is ranged as a novel. The translations that were made by Hersholt together was 156 printed in Andersen's own time plus the fairy tales found in his papers - and published after his death: The Court Cards, Croak!, Danish Popular Legends,God can never die, The Penman, The Talisman, and This Fable is Intended for You.


Should you choose to accept it:

I want you all to write about an object/thing that goes on a journey. I made this broad so that you as a writer can extend your imagination.

Ex: (a leaf that falls of a tree and blows off into the wind.)

Must be in third person to get out of your comfort zone. You have ten minutes no limit but the shortest you can do is a full page and a half.

Things to think upon:

What is it?

What did it do?

If it could think, what would say to you?


I believe that as teens and English we are too used to working with material that we are familiar with and that strains our imagination. We don't think out side of that, should be large, box.

Ex: (what a lamp thinks when you turn it on or when you leave.)

Things to think about.

What is it?

Does it make noise?

Does it move?

What happens when you're not there?

This is similar to the first one, so if you would like to combine ideas, by all means go ahead. I will give you 2 minutes and thirty seconds to think then you all get ten minutes to write and I will pick randomly on who shares. Be prepared!


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Short Story

by shaunacopeland2019


Public - 12/1/16, 10:15 PM