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Attitudes of Grandfather and Aunt Dete in Heidi


In Heidi, Grandfather and Aunt Dete exhibit contrasting attitudes. Grandfather is initially gruff and reclusive but deeply cares for Heidi, eventually showing a softer, nurturing side. Aunt Dete, on the other hand, is more pragmatic and opportunistic, focusing on securing a better future for Heidi, even if it means separating her from her grandfather.

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What is Grandfather's attitude towards Dete in Heidi?

In Johanna Spyri’s Heidi, Grandfather is gruff toward Dete and even angry. He sees through her selfish behavior and resents her interference with Heidi later on. Grandfather’s personality tends to be rather gruff in any case, but he clearly does not like Dete. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Dete decides to bring Heidi to Grandfather because she is tired of caring for the little girl as she has been doing so since her parents’ death. At first, Grandfather wants nothing to do with the arrangement. He is an older man who is set in his ways, and he recognizes and resents Dete’s selfish motives. He does, however reluctantly, agree to keep Heidi, and he tells Dete to be gone and not to let him see her face for a long time.

Indeed, Dete does not return for a long time and by the time she does, Grandfather has grown to love Heidi. Again, though, Dete is acting for her own selfish purposes. She wants to take Heidi with her so that she can gain favor with her employer by providing Heidi as a companion for his daughter. Grandfather, of course, becomes angry and tells Dete he wants nothing to do with it, but Dete threatens court action and takes Heidi away. Grandfather tells Dete to be silent, go away, and never return. Then he stalks out of the hut.

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In Johanna Spyri's Heidi, how does Grandfather think about Dete?

In Johanna Spyri's Heidi, Grandfather recognizes Dete's selfishness from the beginning of the story, and his less-than-positive opinion of her soon turns to anger. Let's look at this in more detail.

Dete has been caring for Heidi since the girl's parents died, but she does not want to be bothered by the child any longer. She wants to pursue earning money and enjoying herself. So she takes Heidi to Grandfather. Dete is a sharp-tongued woman, and she is harsh when she leaves Heidi. Grandfather recognizes Dete's selfishness at once, and calls her out about it. “And when the child begins to fret and whine after you...what am I to do with her then?” Grandfather asks. He realizes that Dete does not want Heidi because of her selfish desires, yet at this point, Grandfather does not especially want her either.

Grandfather, however, grows to love Heidi, and when Dete comes to take the girl back, he grows angry. She threatens him with a court case so that he will let her take Heidi, and he grudgingly gives in, hoping that Heidi will get some education. But he also exclaims to Dete:

Go and be done with you! and never let me see you again with your hat and feather, and such words on your tongue as you come with today!

Again, Grandfather recognizes Dete's selfishness, but now it makes him angrier than ever.

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What is Aunt Dete's attitude in Heidi?

Heidi is an orphan and lives with her mother's sister, Aunt Dete, who has been raised Heidi since infancy. Aunt Dete has a selfish attitude and resents the child. Even though she chose to raise Heidi, she sees the girl as a burden and an imposition.

Aunt Dete decides to take a job in Frankfurt and send Heidi to live with Heidi's mysterious grandfather, even though Aunt Dete has concerns about him. She tells a neighbor about some of the grandfather’s past behavior, and he does not sound like a good guardian for a child. Several people try to talk Aunt Dete out of her decision, but she stands firm and takes Heidi to her grandfather's home, where Aunt Dete exchanges harsh words with the grandfather before leaving.

Now I must go my way and you are Heidi’s next of kin. If you don’t want to keep her, do what you please with her.

Heidi eventually forms a strong bond with her grandfather. Aunt Dete, however, feels guilty about how she treated Heidi and finds a good home for her with a rich family. They have a daughter her age, named Clara, who uses a wheelchair. Aunt Dete has better intentions this time, but she pulls an unwilling Heidi from a home and a grandfather that she loves. Even when Aunt Dete attempts to be kinder to Heidi, she is cruel.

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