The Ugly Duckling Story by Hans Christian Andersen is a classic tale that teaches us to accept ourselves for who we truly are. It also instructs us not to discriminate against people based on their physical appearance. We should never give up on finding our place in society and not stop following our passion and dreams no matter what people say and believe.
The Ugly Duckling Story by Hans Christian Andersen
It was a warm sunny day, and a beautiful mother duck was sitting on her eggs waiting for them to hatch. The other ducks were busy swimming in the pond nearby. She had her nest hidden among the large dark green Burdock plants, which were as dense as the forest itself, keeping her eggs safe from foxes, weasels, and other predators.
Suddenly, she felt something move beneath her. To her amazement, three of her eggs started to crack, and a bunch of lovely golden ducklings came into the world saying, “Peep, peep!”, “Quack, quack!” said the duck, and she was overjoyed. She was eager to take her children to the pond and teach them the ways of a duck. But the one very large brown egg, which was different from the others and she never remembered laying, did not crack, and she sat on it for two more days while the little ducklings waited impatiently for it to crack.
Suddenly, the big egg started to crack, and out popped a strange-looking creature that did not look much like a duck (he was not yellow at all). He was big, dark-grey, and ugly and had huge feet and a broad and long beak. His grey feathers were very shabby, and he walked with a funny wobble.
The mother duck was taken back as she thought it cannot be her baby since he looked hideous and different from her other cute children.
When the other little yellow ducklings saw the big bird, they made fun of him, saying, “You are big and gray and look very ugly.” They continued to bully him and said to each other, “Have you ever seen anything uglier than this?”
The next day, the sun shone brightly on the green burdock leaves, and the mother duck took her ducklings for their first swim in the farm pond. The weather was perfectly splendid, and the big grey duckling joined the other ducklings.
The ducklings flapped their wings and jumped into the water with a splash, one after the another, crying, “Quack, quack!”. The grey duckling tried to imitate them but made a crackling sound and became the butt of jokes among the other ducks.
The ducklings continued to swim. The water went over their heads, but they came up again in an instant and swam perfectly. The big grey duckling also swam along with them with its legs paddling, as easily as possible, floating flawlessly.
The other ducks in the pond started to ill-treat the grey duckling. A few ducks pecked at its feathers, while the others stared at him, and began to laugh at his appearance. The grey duckling became sad, and seeing this, the mother duck took her ducklings to a different part of the pond. After some time, the mother duck being embarrassed by the jokes played on the ugly duckling made him stay in the corner of the pond. The other ducks began to ignore him while they practiced quacking, swimming, diving, and splashing water in the pond.
When they left the water, everyone started to play. The grey duckling tried to play with his siblings. However, they yelled at him, “Go away, you ugly one! We do not want to play with you! You walk weirdly, and your voice crackles.” The ugly duckling became very sad.
Since no one liked the ugly duckling, he looked for someone to play with. He went to the farm pond and asked the animals who stayed there if they will play with him. But the frog, the turtle, and the fish in the pond turned him away saying, that he looks very despicable and they do not want to play with him. Even the friendly bird in the tree was not in the mood to accept his invitation.
The ugly duckling was broken-hearted and joined his mother and siblings in the barnyard. As the family waddled (walk with short steps and a clumsy swaying motion) across the yard, the other birds started to peck and push the ugly duckling. He was bitten and made fun of not only by the ducks but also the poultry. The poor little creature suffered much verbal and physical abuse from the animals on the farm. Even the girl who fed the animals kicked him with her foot.
The turkey gobbler, who thought of himself as the emperor of the farm, bore down upon him and started to peck the ugly duckling until his face became red. The poor duckling was not able to stand up to him, and he became extremely depressed and dejected. He did not know what to do to earn the favor of the farm animals. Over the next few days, he became the laughing stock of the whole barnyard and things went from bad to worse. The ugly duckling was chased and pounded about by everyone. His family members also abused him.
One day, one of his sisters said to the ugly duckling, “You know what? Why don’t you do us a favor by going away from here!” All of his siblings started to quack, “Get out! Get out! Get out!”
The ugly duckling was puzzled as to why they wanted him to leave. Was he a source of humiliation to his entire family? He hung his head low and said to them, “All right, I will leave. Will never come back.”
Feeling despondent and unwanted, with tears flowing down his cheek, the ugly duckling decided to leave his home. That evening the animals on the farm went to sleep. Sensing an opportunity to get away, the ugly duckling flew over the farmyard fence. He ran until he reached the great marsh where there were large reeds. The wild ducks and geese lived there. He laid all night long in the marsh—dirty, weary, and disheartened.
The next day, it was a new beginning for the ugly duckling. Few of the wild ducks living in the marsh surrounded him to take a look at the visitor. They allowed him to stay there, though they commented on his ugly looks. In gratitude, the ugly duckling bowed his head and acknowledged them.
However, they never accepted him into their family, and this made him truly unhappy. He stayed in the marsh for two days and went in search of a family he can call his own. Then, the ugly duckling came across a large pond filled with a family of geese.
The baby geese, called goslings, in the family, were a brown-gray just like him. The ugly duckling swam towards the geese and greeted one of the larger and older goslings. The mother goose and the goslings shouted in unison, “Oh, my. You are so ugly.” They began to mock the ugly duckling. But, the father goose developed a liking for him and welcomed him to his family. The ugly duckling was taken aback by surprise and was overcome with joy as he found a new family to live with. The geese were very compassionate towards him, though their honks hurt his ears.
A few days passed by, and the ugly duckling was living happily with the family of geese. He played with the goslings, and the mother and father treated him like their own son. Everything was going very steadily, until one day…
Bang! Bang! Shots rang in the air, and the mother and father goose fell dead among the reeds. Hunters had gathered around the marsh and started shooting mercilessly. The other wild geese in the marsh scattered, and the goslings in his family were not spared too. It was a blood bath. The poor duckling was scared and laid perfectly still, as shot after shot was fired.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a basset hound appeared beside him. He opened his jaws wide and flashed his sharp teeth. He sniffed for a while and went on without touching the poor duckling. The duckling heaved a sigh of relief and thought that it was because of its ugliness the dog did not bite him.
It was late evening, and the sky turned dark. Things became very quiet in the marsh, but the ugly duckling did not make a move. He waited till it was pitch dark and then trotted away from the marsh. He ran across fields and glades. All of a sudden there was a heavy downpour of rain and the ugly duckling was soaked wet.
The wind was blowing fiercely, and the ugly duckling struggled to keep his feet on the ground. Tired and hungry, the poor duckling saw a tiny light flickering far off in the woods. The light came from a small wooden cabin that was very old and worn out. There was a small crevice through which the duckling squeezed into the shack.
The next morning, he noticed that there was an old woman with a cat and a hen in the cabin. The woman was short-sighted, so she mistook the duckling for a duck, and she decided to keep it for the eggs. But, the duckling did not lay even one egg in the following three weeks. The hen found out that he was a boy duckling and he cannot lay eggs. After hearing this, the hen and the cat chased him out of the place, accusing him of being a pretender. The ugly duckling feeling despondent, ran off into the woods.
As autumn set in, the leaves changed their colors from red to orange and later to gold. The duckling went to a lakeside one evening as the sun was setting. To his amazement, he saw an enormous flock of wild swans appearing out of the reeds. They were dazzlingly white with long graceful slender necks. They just seemed to glide through the sky and were migrating to warmer countries and open waters since the cold winter season was just around the corner.
He went round and round and lifted his neck to follow their path. He wanted to join them, but he was too young, and his wings had not yet developed for flight. He made a shrill cry and watched until the very last bird had flown out of view.
The harsh winter season arrived soon, and the ground was covered with a white blanket of snow that stretched out for miles. This made the duckling feel even more gloomy, and one evening he went to the bank of a lake. To keep himself warm, the duckling jumped into the pond and swam to and fro in the water. He began to follow this routine every day.
But after some time, the hole in which he was swimming kept getting smaller and smaller. Then one day, the pond finally froze, and it became very hard for the duckling to paddle and keep the ice from closing in upon him. The duck got stranded in the ice and could swim no more.
A kind farmer was on the way to his home when he saw the poor duckling’s desperate condition. He took pity on him and broke away the ice with his wooden shoe, and carried the trembling duckling home keeping him close to his thick wool jacket. The farmer nursed him back to health, offering him food and shelter.
One day the farmer’s children decided to play with the duckling. They were mischievous and noisy, and the ugly duckling was scared that they would hurt him. Being terrified, he jumped into the milk pail, and the whole room was splashed with the liquid. The farmer’s wife got angry and chased him out of the room, lashing out at him with fire pit tongs. The children tried to catch him, and the duckling escaped through the open door into the bushes. He caught his breath and laid himself down in the snow.
The ugly duckling had to endure immense hardships during the cruel winter. He was alone in the swamp and spent the long winter in an empty barn, struggling to survive.
Then after a few months, the beautiful season of spring arrived, and the duckling was miraculously still alive among the reeds of the marsh.
The ugly duckling heard the song of the larks and was very happy that he could start swimming again in the lake. When he went to the lake, he saw a flock of swans swimming with grace and poise.
Having endured a life of seclusion and misfortune, the ugly duckling decided to throw himself at the mercy of the swans. He thought that it is better to be killed by a group of charming birds than live a life of misery.
Assured of rejection, the ugly duckling approached the group of swans. However, he was shocked when the swans accepted and welcomed him into their group.
He went to a corner of the lake to reflect on this strange behavior of the swans. He felt thirsty and bent his head low to drink some water. What he saw in the water stunned him completely. His reflection in the water was of a beautiful swan. To make sure, he stretched his neck, and the reflection also stretched its neck. When he jumped, the reflection also jumped back. He was sure that he was no longer an ugly duckling.
The ugly duckling was now fully grown and strong. His ugly feathers were now snowy white, and his neck was curved and slender. He had matured and grown into a handsome swan. The magnificent graceful swans came towards him and stroked him with their beaks. He had never been so happier in his entire life. He had finally found his home with the swans and appreciated their warmth and love.
The ugly duckling’s dream to fit in finally became true. He was at peace with himself and the world surrounding him. His hopelessness, troubles, and the mocking and ridicule he endured were things of the past. He was no more a dirty, ugly, offensive, and clumsy grey bird. He was an attractive swan. He held his slender neck high and cried out, “Am I an ugly duckling? Surely, Not!”
The swan (previously ugly duckling) rustled his feathers and joined the flock of beautiful swans. When the flock flew towards the majestic sky, he spread his gorgeous wings and took flight taking his place in front of the whole flock. He was delighted to glide and dip through the sky with his newly found family.
Moral of the Ugly Duckling Story
The Ugly Duckling story teaches us numerous lessons, such as the harm of bullying and the importance of being true to oneself. However, the most important lesson of all is to avoid discrimination, which is a form of prejudice that comprises feelings of hostility, dislike, or indifference towards a specific person or a group of people. It is the belief that certain individuals or groups possess inferior intellect, skills, or behavior. While some forms of discrimination may be unintentional, some are conscious and intentional.
The barnyard animals in the Ugly Duckling story ridicule and mock the duckling because of his strange appearance, and they treat him with contempt.
The Ugly Duckling story captures the feelings of those people who are looked at differently by society and the persistent and aggressive bias shown by the general populace toward these people. The Ugly Duckling story shows the distress caused by discrimination very clearly and the efforts taken by the afflicted ones to find where they truly belong.
We should never judge someone by their looks (never judge a book by its cover) because they may be very good at heart, and we never know they may be the only one who commiserates and lends us a hand in times of trouble.
The Ugly Duckling story also encourages us not to give up on our dreams, ideas, and passions. If we keep walking down the right path, we will ultimately find our place in society no matter what happens.
The Ugly Duckling story shows us that we have no right to judge others. People have no obligation to meet our preconceptions and standards. We should understand that beauty and dignity are determined by people’s behavior and not their looks. We should look at the individual merits of people and not their ethnicity, skin color, race, age, or gender. Then the world will become a better place for everyone to live and prosper.
Check our wide collection of Moral Stories that will inspire you and your children to do great things for the good of others. These stories for kids are motivating stories that will teach valuable lessons.