Law and Gospel in a short fairy tale

Will McDavid at Mockingbird quotes “The Ungrateful Son,”  an extremely short fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm.  Here it is:

Once a man and his wife were sitting outside the front door with a roast chicken before them which they were going to eat between them. Then the man saw his old father coming along and quickly took the chicken and hid it, for he begrudged him any of it. The old man came, had a drink, and went away.

Now the son was about to put the roast chicken back on the table, but when he reached for it, it had turned into a big toad that jumped in his face and stayed there and didn’t go away again.

And if anybody tried to take it away, it would give them a poisonous look, as if about to jump in their faces, so that no one dared touch it. And the ungrateful son had to feed the toad every day, otherwise it would eat part of his face. And thus he went ceaselessly hither and yon about the world.

What  can we learn from this rather bizarre folktale?  After the jump, see what McDavid makes of it. [Read more...]


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