Study Guide

Anne of Green Gables Setting

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Avonlea, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Don't take it from us—just ask the title: the setting of Anne of Green Gables is crucial to this novel.

The country home and farm of Green Gables is set in the fictional village of Avonlea, which is said to be modeled after the rural community where the author was raised: Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. Never heard of it? Don't feel too bad—the island's Canada's smallest province, north of Nova Scotia in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Oh, and this is no modern country tale. Anne's story is set during the late 1800's. So the isolated P.E. Island was even more isolated.

Avonlea is all up in this story, so intertwined with every action and speech that without this community, there wouldn't be story left. For Anne, connecting with her new home means connecting with nature, and Prince Edward Island has a ton of nature to commune with, with hills, woods, cliffs, and the water that's always in the distance. Each page contains jealous-making descriptions of nature in every season, plus Anne's thoughts on every bit of environment she sees.

Avonlea is also tiny, with a one-room schoolhouse for all the children in town, and a hall and church, but no store. Everyone knows everyone's business, so if Anne does something as small as wear a flower crown to church, not only the do all the kids but also the adults know and have an opinion about it by the end of the day.

Also, because it's so small there aren't many different types of people…which makes Anne really stand out. There seem to be two social classes: "respectable" families like Marilla's and a serving class of French children who watch Avonlea children or act as cheap farm labor. Though not French, Anne would have been in that serving class, watching other women's children, if Matthew and Marilla hadn't decided to keep her.

Later in the book, the author zooms out and takes Anne to other towns, White Sands and the island's capital city of Charlottetown. It's only when she does this and readers are introduced to more types of people (wealthy townspeople and Americans who vacation on the island) we learn that to the rest of the world, Anne's just a poor farm girl. Anne feels so grateful and lucky up until that point that we think of her as a queen.

Hey, she's queen of the imagination, at least. Bow down, world.

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