The Old Man and his Grandson

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The Old Man and his Grandson is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in Grimm's Fairy Tales as tale number 78.[1]

It is Aarne-Thompson type 980B, The Wooden Bowl.[2]


An old man could not eat neatly, so his son and daughter-in-law made him eat by the stove and, when he broke his bowl, bought him a cheap one. His four-year-old grandson played with wood and said that he was making a trough for his parents to eat from when they were old. After that, they let him eat at the table and did not complain about the spill.


The bowl was described as costing a few heller.[3]


Other tales of this type vary on the exact offense that the grandson declares he will commit and the son thereafter refrains from: making his father sleep under half a blanket in the stables, bringing back the carrier so he can carry his father to abandon him, or commit murder.[4] In medieval Europe, the son was commonly sent for a blanket and came back with half, justifying it by saying the other half is saved for his father.[5] In an Asian version, the father weaves a basket to throw his aged father into the river. A son says to bring back the basket so that it can be used for the father one day.[6]