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The motif Sin, sinner in HCA : Chicken Grethe's Family (1869)
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The motif Sin, sinner in HCA : Chicken Grethe's Family (1869)

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Description of this motif: Sin is a violation of religious rules. Sin sticks to the sinner as impurity or guilt. Absolution or another kind of purification is necessary in order to become "clean" or not guilty again. In Andersen's universe sin isn't unforgivable. Sinners may be forgiven and achieve salvation. In some tales, e.g. Something and The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf, sinners are given a chance to regret and improve – sometimes in several attempts, which either lead to continued condemnation or to salvation, e.g. in The Garden of Paradise.

Example :

Twelfth Night came, and Mother Sören lighted for Holberg a candle of the Three Kings – that is, three small tallow candles – which she herself had prepared.

"A candle for each man!" said Holberg.

"Each man?" she exclaimed, and looked at him hard.

"Each of the wise men from the east," Holberg said.

"Oh, that's how you meant it," she said, and sat in silence for a while. But on that evening of the Three Kings, he learned a great deal about her that he had not known.

"You are fond of the man you are wedded to," Holberg said, "yet people tell me he daily mistreated you."

"That concerns no one but me," Mother Sören declared. "The blows would have done me good had they fallen when I was a child. Now they probably fall for my sins. I only know the good he has done me." She stood up straight.

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