Grandfather is getting older and older. He trembles, he spills his food. It’s disgusting to his son and his son’s wife. Then the grandson does something that will change everything…
The Old Man and His Grandson is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about an old grandfather who trembles, spills his food and drops his eating bowl. His son and son’s wife treat him badly. His grandson makes a trough for his parents to eat from later. They see it and start treating grandfather better.
Complete text The Old Man and His Grandson
There was once a very old man. His eyes had become dim, his ears dull of hearing, his knees trembled. When he sat at table he could hardly hold the spoon, spilling the broth upon the table cloth or letting it run out of his mouth.
His son and his son’s wife were disgusted at this. The old grandfather at last had to sit in the corner behind the stove. They gave him his food in an earthenware bowl. Not even enough food.
He was always looking towards the table with his eyes full of tears. Once, too, his trembling hands could not hold the bowl. It fell to the ground and broke.
The young wife scolded him, but he said nothing and only sighed. They bought him a wooden bowl for a few small coins, out of which he had to eat.
Once they were sitting like that when the little grandson of four years old began to gather together some bits of wood on the ground.
“What are you doing there?” asked the father.
“I am making a little trough,” the child answered, “for father and mother to eat out of when I am big.”
The man and his wife looked at each other for a while. They began to cry.
Then they took the old grandfather to the table. From that time they always let him eat with them, and said nothing if he did spill a little of anything.
Tips for Telling The Old Man and His Grandson
- This is a little story with a deep meaning. Think it through before you will tell it. And your listeners will be touched and thinking about the meaning themselves.
- There are many variants of this story from different times and cultures. Could you change the story and bring it closer to your time and culture? It might make it even more powerful.
- This story needs a strong feeling at the beginning. Take your time with describing how his children treat the grandfather until your audience feels sorry for him and feels anger towards his children.
All Questions Answered
It was published by the Brothers Grimm in the first edition of their Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Source: a written version by Johann Heinrich Jung-Stillung.
The Brothers Grimm included it in the 1812 first edition of their Grimm’s fairy tales. Many different variants have been recorded by other authors.
Leo Tolstoy made a version of this story, called ‘The old grandfather and his little grandson’.
How you care for your elderly will be how your children will care for you.
More Useful information
- “The Old Man and His Grandson” on Wikipedia
- Worldwide variants of this story at Prof. Ashliman’s website
- Link to a .doc file with the version of Leo Tolstoy