The theme of "The Ugly Duckling" theme is about the search for personal identity rather than conforming to society's norms. When the duckling does return to his pond after a period of exploration, he finds acceptance for who he is. "The Ugly Duckling" was written by Hans Christian Andersen, and it was first published in 1843.
At the beginning of "The Ugly Duckling," a cat and a hen tell the duckling that nobody can take him seriously unless he becomes attractive like his peers. They also suggest that he must behave in a certain way. Rather than adapt to what they expect, the duckling goes off on a period of exploration to see if there is anyone else out there like him. This suggests that the theme is going on a journey of self-exploration. At this part of the story, children are given the positive message that they should never give up.
At the end of the story, the duckling returns to where he came from and emerges as a beautiful swan. At this point, he is the most admired animal in the vicinity. It is made clear that he does not have control on who accepts him, but he does have control on how he feels about the situation. This reinforces the message that children should not give up on who they are but, at the same time, suggests that people eventually find acceptance for their true personality.