"I think he's lovely," said Anne reproachfully. "He is so very sympathetic. He didn't mind how much I talked—he seemed to like it. I felt that he was a kindred spirit as soon as ever I saw him."
"You're both queer enough, if that's what you mean by kindred spirits," said Marilla with a sniff. (4.27-28)
Matthew and Anne compliment each other perfectly. Anne is a chatterbox, and Matthew likes to listen. Plus, Anne sees something in Matthew that other people don't—sympathy. Matthew can understand her feelings and feel them along with her.
"Marilla," she demanded presently, "do you think that I shall ever have a bosom friend in Avonlea?
"A—a what kind of friend?"
"A bosom friend—an intimate friend, you know—a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my innermost soul. I've dreamed of meeting her all my life." (8.35-37)
Bosom = Anne-speak for "best." (Also: what an awesome description of what a best friend is.)
Diana repeated the "oath" with a laugh fore and aft. Then she said:
"You're a queer girl, Anne. I heard before that you were queer. But I believe I'm going to like you real well." (12.37-38)
See, this is why Diana is great for Anne. A true friend says "You're weird, and I love you for it."
"Mr. Phillips says I'm the worst dunce he ever saw at it. And Gil—I mean some of the others are so smart at it. It is extremely mortifying, Marilla. Even Diana gets along better than I do. But I don't mind being beaten by Diana." (17.33)
We know Anne's competitive when it comes to schoolwork. So it says a lot that it doesn't bother her when Diana beats her. She's so proud of Diana that it cancels out any jealous feelings.
"Miss Barry was a kindred spirit after all," Anne confided to Marilla. "You wouldn't think so to look at her, but she is. You don't find it right out at first, as in Matthew's case, but after awhile you come to see it." (19.98)
We heart Anne's idea of the kindred spirit: someone who fits with you, who is compatible, who you naturally get along with. Miss Barry is proof that unlikely people can turn out to be kindred.
"Your solo was perfectly elegant, Diana. I felt prouder than you did when it was encored. I just said to myself, "It is my dear bosom friend who is so honored." (25.52)
Have you ever watched a friend do something great, and wanted to shout "I know them!" If Diana became a pop star, Anne would absolutely run her fan club.
Anne's unhappiness continued for a week. During that time she went nowhere and shampooed her hair every day. Diana alone of outsiders knew the fatal secret, but she promised solemnly never to tell, and it may be stated here and now that she kept her word. (27.33)
You've got to admire Diana's secret-keeping ability, especially since "Anne accidentally dyed her hair green" would have been a juicy gossip.
Miss Barry was a rather selfish old lady, if the truth must be told, and had never cared much for anybody but herself. She valued people only as they were of service to her or amused her. Anne had amused her, and consequently stood high in the old lady's good graces. But Miss Barry found herself thinking less about Anne's quaint speeches than of her fresh enthusiasm, her transparent emotions, her little winning ways, and the sweetness of her eyes and lips. (29.33)
And her heart grew three sizes that day. This is the part when Anne changes from a funny distraction to someone Miss Barry actually cares about.
"Diana and I are thinking seriously of promising each other that we will never marry but be nice old maids and live together forever." (30.7)
Every once in awhile, Anne gets stressed out about the future, when she imagines she and Diana will marry and spend less time together. It may seem like a silly thing to worry about, but think of it this way: aside from family, Anne and Diana are the most important people in each other's lives. Who can blame them for wanting to stay that way?
"You've done pretty well, I must say, Anne," said Marilla, trying to hide her extreme pride in Anne from Mrs. Rachel's critical eye. But that good soul said heartily:
"I just guess she has done well, and far be it from me to be backward in saying it. You're a credit to your friends, Anne, that's what, and we're all proud of you." (32.44-45)
One good thing about Mrs. Lynde: she doesn't hold anything back. When she's annoyed, she says so, just the same as when she's happy or proud. So this change of heart from when she first met Anne comes easily to her.
"Well, well, there's no need to cry about it."
"Yes, there is need!" The child raised her head quickly, revealing a tear-stained face and trembling lips. "You would cry, too, if you were an orphan and had come to a place you thought was going to be home and found that they didn't want you because you weren't a boy. Oh, this is the most tragical thing that ever happened to me!" (3.11-12)
You tell her, Anne. It's a little unfair of Marilla to expect Anne not to be upset when she's taking away something Anne thought she was getting, something she's never had before.
"There is no use in loving things if you have to be torn from them, is there? And it's so hard to keep from loving things, isn't it? That was why I was so glad when I thought I was going to live here. I thought I'd have so many things to love and nothing to hinder me." (4.32)
Because Anne loves nature and beauty, Green Gables is the ideal place for her. Also, Green Gables would be/is the first location where she hasn't been in a position of servitude. It's a location, and it's also a physical embodiment of freedom.
"I'm crying," said Anne in a tone of bewilderment. "I can't think why. I'm glad as glad can be. Oh glad doesn't seem the right word at all. I was glad about the White Way and the cherry blossoms—but this! Oh, it's something more than glad." (8.7)
Crying from happiness is something Anne is so unused to that she doesn't understand it. But her tears show us what a big deal moment this is.
Hence, while Marilla and Mrs. Rachel were enjoying themselves hugely at the mass meeting, Anne and Matthew had the cheerful kitchen at Green Gables all to themselves. A bright fire was glowing in the old-fashioned Waterloo stove and blue-white frost crystals were shining on the windowpanes. Matthew nodded over a Farmer's Advocate on the sofa and Anne at the table studied her lessons with grim determination, despite sundry wistful glances at the clock shelf, where lay a new book that Jane Andrews had leant her that day. (18.3)
Who do you think is having more fun, Marilla or Anne? This warm, homey scene makes us want to be in Anne's shoes.
In all essential respects the little gable chamber was unchanged. The walls were as white, the pincushion as hard, the chairs as stiffly and yellowly upright as ever. Yet the whole character of the room was altered. It was full of a new vital, pulsing personality that seemed to pervade it and to be quite independent of schoolgirl books and dresses and ribbons, and even of the cracked blue jug full of apple blossoms on the table. It was as if all the dreams, sleeping and waking, of its vivid occupant had taken a visible although immaterial form and had tapestried the bare room with splendid filmy tissues of rainbow and moonshine. (20.7)
The East Gable room seems different, now that Anne lives there, but it's less about Anne's things being in the room and more of a feeling. Sort of like how Matthew and Marilla are little bit different since Anne entered their lives, but it would be hard to describe exactly what about them has changed.
Her eyes dwelt affectionately on Green Gables, peering through its network of trees and reflecting the sunlight back from its windows in several little coruscations of glory.
Marilla, as she picked her steps along the damp lane, thought that it was really a satisfaction to know that she was going home to a briskly snapping wood fire and a table nicely spread for tea, instead of to the cold comfort of old Aid meeting evenings before Anne had come to Green Gables. (27.2)
Here's a rare chance when we get to see Green Gables through Marilla's eyes, and see that the comforts of home mean as much to her as they do to Anne.
When she crossed the log bridge over the brook the kitchen light of Green Gables winked at her a friendly welcome back, and through the open door shone the hearth fire, sending out its warm red glow athwart the chilly autumn night. Anne ran blithely up the hill and into the kitchen, where a hot supper was waiting on the table. (29.37)
Ah, the joy of coming home after travelling. Anne's all about it, and the way she runs in without even pausing shows us how she feels like she belongs there.
The east gable was a very different place from what it had been on that night four years before, when Anne had felt its bareness penetrate to the marrow of her spirit with its inhospitable chill. Changes had crept in, Marilla conniving at them resignedly, until it was as sweet and dainty a nest as a young girl could desire.
The velvet carpet and pink silk curtains of Anne's early visions had certainly never materialized; but her dreams had kept pace with her growth, and it is not probable she lamented them. (33.3-4)
We're about to get another description of how Anne has grown up through a view of her bedroom. It's not how she had imagined her dream room when she was young, but she's changed, and it's her ideal room now.
She looked dismally about her narrow little room, with its dull-papered, pictureless walls, its small iron bedstead and empty bookcase; and a horrible choke came into her throat as she thought of her own white room at Green Gables, where she would have the pleasant consciousness of a great green still outdoors, of sweet peas growing in the garden, and moonlight falling on the orchard, of the brook below the slope and the spruce boughs tossing in the night wind beyond it, of a vast starry sky, and the light from Diana's window shining out through the gap in the trees. (34.16)
Anne's homesick. You might say she's Avonlea-sick, because when she thinks about her room, what she misses is the view of nature that surrounds the Green Gables house.
"Nonsense!" Anne laughed merrily. "There is no sacrifice. Nothing could be worse than giving up Green Gables—nothing could hurt me more. We must keep the dear old place." (38.24)
Anne is giving up a scholarship to college to save Green Gables. We know how much Anne loves learning, so that really shows what Green Gables means to her. It's more important than most things in her life.
"Yes, it's red," she said resignedly. "Now you see why I can't be perfectly happy. Nobody could who had red hair. I don't mind the other things so much—the freckles and the green eyes and my skinniness. I can imagine them away. I can imagine that I have a beautiful rose leaf complexion and lovely starry violet eyes. But I cannot imagine that red hair away. I do my best. I think to myself, "Now my hair is a glorious black, black as the raven's wing." But all the time I know it is just plain red, and it breaks my heart. It will be my lifelong sorrow." (2.39)
Like many other speeches Anne makes about her hair, this one has the over-the-top language of tragedy. So it is laughable. Especially because there are so many legit tragedies in Anne's life, but she chooses her hair to be her lifelong sorrow. But she's also getting at that difference between how we imagine ourselves verses how we actually look. Anne's definitely not the only person who has been bothered by that difference.
"Mrs. Thomas said I was the homeliest baby she ever saw, I was so scrawny and tiny and nothing but eyes, but that mother thought I was perfectly beautiful. I should think that a mother would be a better judge than a poor woman who came in to scrub, wouldn't you? I'm glad she was satisfied with me anyhow; I would feel so sad if I thought I was a disappointment to her—because she didn't live very long after that, you see." (5.14)
This quote might get at the root of why Anne gets so angry when people insult her looks. Mrs. Thomas raised Anne from a baby, so Anne's been told she was ugly for her entire life. Not cool, Mrs. Thomas. The only idea Anne has to comfort her is that her mother thought she was beautiful before she died.
During Marilla's speech a sunrise had been dawning on Anne's face. First the look of despair faded out; then came a faint flush of hope; her eyes grew deep and bright as morning stars. (6.21)
Anne's hair and freckles may not be pretty by the beauty standards of her day, but here we see how she glows when she's happy or excited. Those expressions are beautiful.
Well they didn't pick you for your looks, that's sure and certain," was Mrs. Rachel Lynde's emphatic comment. Mrs. Rachel was one of those delightful and popular people who pride themselves on speaking their mind without fear or favor. "She's terrible skinny and homely, Marilla. Come here, child, and let me have a look at you. Lawful heart, did any one ever see such freckles? And hair as red as carrots! Come here, child, I say." (9.15)
Ouch. Mrs. Lynde talks about Anne, while she's standing right there, as if she's property, instead of a person with feelings. It shows how orphans, and children, are treated in this society. Even though Mrs. Lynde isn't being kind, she expects Anne to obey her without complaint.
"Just remember how you would feel if someone told you to your face that you were skinny and ugly," pleaded Anne tearfully.
An old remembrance suddenly rose up before Marilla. She had been a very small child when she had heard one aunt say of her to another, "What a pity she is such a dark, homely little thing." Marilla was every day of fifty before the sting had gone out of that memory. (9.44-45)
This is the difference between Marilla and her friend, Mrs. Lynde. Mrs. Lynde's way of thinking is "it's my way or the highway." But in this quote, we see that Marilla is able to relate her experience with other people's, and imagine herself in their shoes.
"The trouble with you, Anne, is that you're thinking too much about yourself. You should just think of Mrs. Allan and what would be nicest and most agreeable for her," said Marilla, hitting for once in her life on a very sound and pithy piece of advice. (22.9)
Marilla reminds us here that Anne's vanity goes beyond worrying about how she looks. Whenever Anne is invited to an activity or event, she does get a little too in her head and focus on herself, rather than the people who will be there with her.
"I suppose she's trying to cultivate a spirit of humility in Anne by dressing her as she does; but it's more likely to cultivate envy and discontent." (25.30)
When you have an opinion about everything, you're bound to be right sometimes. Marilla has been trying to dress Anne "sensibly" to stop her from caring about material things like clothes, but the real effect has been to make Anne feel inferior to the other girls. Luckily for Anne, this is a turning point for her in terms of fashion. After Mrs. Lynde gets her a nice dress, Marilla starts to buy her pretty clothes, too.
"I never thought I was vain about my hair, of all things, but now I know that I was, in spite of its being red, because it was so long and thick and curly." (27.40)
Anne accidentally dyeing her hair green and having to get it cut is like a morality tale or fable with a moral. She's punished for caring too much about her looks.
That scene of two years before flashed back into her recollection as vividly as if it had taken place yesterday. Gilbert had called her "carrots" and had brought about her disgrace before the whole school. Her resentment, which to other and older people might be as laughable as its cause, was in no whit allayed and softened by time seemingly. (28.33)
Anne sure can hold a grudge. But the narrator/author seems to sympathize with her, here. She reminds older readers that even if it seems silly to us, Anne is only a kid, and the memory, for her, still stings.
"She's a real pretty girl got to be, though I can't say I'm overly partial to that pale, big-eyed style myself. I like more snap and color, like Diana Barry has or Ruby Gillis. Ruby Gillis' looks are real showy. But somehow—I don't know how it is but when Anne and them are together, though she ain't half as handsome, she makes them look kind of common and overdone—something like them white June lilies she calls narcissus alongside of the big, red peonies, that's what." (30.44)
Remember when Mrs. Lynde thought Anne was the ugliest child she had ever seen? Not only does she change her tune by the end of the book, but she also manages to see that Anne has an inner light that makes her seem even more beautiful than her fashionable friends.
Accordingly after tea Mrs. Rachel set out; she had not far to go; the big, rambling, orchard-embowered house where the Cuthberts lived was a scant quarter of a mile up the road from Lynde's Hollow. To be sure, the long lane made it a good deal further.
Matthew Cuthbert's father, as shy and silent as his son after him, had got as far away as he possibly could from his fellow men without actually retreating into the woods when he founded his homestead. Green Gables was built at the furthest edge of his cleared land and there it was to this day, barely visible from the main road along which all the other Avonlea houses were so sociably situated. (1.7)
Hmm, the location of Matthew's farm is similar to Matthew's personality, isn't it? Matthew likes to keep to himself and do his own thing on the edge of society.
Below was a little valley and beyond a long, gently-rising slope with snug farmsteads scattered along it. From one to another the child's eyes dared, eager and wistful. At last they lingered on one away to the left, far back from the road, dimly white with blossoming trees in the twilight of the surrounding woods. Over it, in the stainless southwest sky, a great crystal-white start was shining like a lamp of guidance and promise. (3.71)
With that star in the sky, it's almost like the natural world is guiding Anne to her new home.
"Oh, I like things to have handles even if they are only geraniums. It makes them seem more like people. How do you know but that it hurts a geranium's feelings just to be called a geranium and nothing else? You wouldn't like to be called nothing but a woman all the time. Yes, I shall call it Bonny." (4.36)
Anne and nature are like BFFs. To Marilla, plants are for decoration, maybe even nourishment. But Anne sees plants as alive, with full personalities.
"Oh, look, here's a big bee just tumbled out of an apple blossom. Just think what a lovely place to live—in an apple blossom! Fancy going to sleep in it when the wind was rocking it. If I wasn't a human girl I think I'd like to be a bee and live among the flowers."
"Yesterday you wanted to be a sea gull," sniffed Marilla. "I think you are very fickle minded." (8.46-47)
Nature stimulates Anne's active imagination. And it takes her deep—not only does she imagine flying around as a bee, but comes up with a very specific picture of sleeping inside a flower.
Anne reveled in the drive to the hall, slipping along over the satin-smooth roads with the snow crisping under the runners. There was a magnificent sunset, and the snowy hills and deep blue water of the St. Lawrence Gulf seemed to rim in the splendor like a huge bowl or pearl and sapphire brimmed with wine and fire. Tinkles of sleigh bells and distant laughter, that seemed like the mirth of wood elves, came from every quarter. (19.37)
It's Christmas time, and the narration paints us a holiday picture by evoking warmth, bells, and even elves. Oh what fun it is to ride...
Anne went to bed that night speechless with misery because Matthew had said the wind was round northeast and he feared it would be a rainy day tomorrow. The rustle of the poplar leaves about the house worried her, it sounded so like pattering raindrops, and the dull, faraway roar of the gulf, to which she listened delightedly at other times, loving its strange, sonorous, haunting rhythm, now seemed like a prophecy of storm and disaster to a small maiden who particularly wanted a fine day. (22.5)
How much does Anne not want it to rain? So much that she imagines every outdoor sound as storm noises. Projecting much?
Marilla was not given to subjective analysis of her thoughts and feelings. She probably imagined that she was thinking about the Aids and their missionary box and the new carpet for the vestry room, but under these reflections was a harmonious consciousness of red fields smoking into pale purply mists in the declining sun, of long, sharp-pointed fir shadows falling over the meadow beyond the book, of still, crimson-budded maples around a mirror-like wood-pool, of a wakening in the world and a stir of hidden pulses under the gray sod. The spring was abroad in the land and Marilla's sober, middle-aged step was lighter because of it. (27.1)
Marilla may not be as attuned to nature as Anne, but this shows that she is, at least, affected by it. She does live on a farm, after all.
Anne looked at the wicked green depths below her, wavering with long, oily shadows, and shivered. Her imagination began to suggest all manner of gruesome possibilities to her. (28.23)
Nature isn't always pleasant. Especially when the river current is strong and any moment, you could slip into it. In this case, it doesn't help that Anne has an overactive imagination.
"And I came to the conclusion, Marilla, that I wasn't born for city life and that I was glad of it. It's nice to be eating ice cream at brilliant restaurants at eleven o'clock at night once in awhile; but as a regular thing I'd rather be in the east gable at eleven, sound asleep, but kind of knowing even in my sleep that the stars were shining outside and that the wind was blowing in the firs across the brook." (29.28)
Anne could have simply said, "I've decided I'm more of a country girl." But that's not her way, is it? Instead, she paints a beautiful image of the comfort of sleep in a home is surrounded by greenery and open sky.
"That may make me feel badly tomorrow, Josie," laughed Anne, "but just now I honestly feel that as long as I know the violets are coming out all purple down in the hollow below Green Gables and that little ferns are poking their heads up in Lovers' Lane, it's not a great deal of difference whether I win the Avery or not." (35.16)
Anne for the win. Josie's trying to activate Anne's envy by saying someone else will probably get the scholarship, but Anne can block out the situation by reveling in the springtime.
"Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep woods, and I'd look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I'd just feel a prayer." (7.19)
Anne is all sincerity. Her religious feelings can be summed up as loving the world that God created, whereas the rest of Avonlea thinks of religion more in terms of prayers, church, and duties. We think Anne's idea of a prayer sounds nice, but it shocks Marilla.
She had intended to teach Anne the childish classic, "Now I lay me down to sleep." But she had, as I have told you, the glimmerings of a sense of humor—which is simply another name for a sense of the fitness of things; and it suddenly occurred to her that that simple little prayer, sacred to white-robed childhood lisping at motherly knees, was entirely unsuited to this freckled witch of a girl who knew and cared nothing about God's love, since she had never had it translated to her through the medium of human love. (7.20)
Sure, Marilla is a little shocked when Anne tells her she doesn't pray, but at least she understands why. If Anne doesn't know what love feels like, how could she understand what God is supposed to represent?
"Anne," said Marilla, wondering why she had not broken into this speech long before, "you shouldn't talk that way. It's irreverent—positively irreverent."
Anne's eyes marveled.
"Why, I felt just as reverent as could be. I'm sure I didn't mean to be irreverent."
"Well, I don't suppose you did—but it doesn't sound right to talk so familiarly about such things." (8.27 – 8.30)
Marilla doesn't like when Anne talks about God as if she knows him or knows what he wants. Which of them do you think knows better?
"You should have listened to Mr. Bell."
"But he wasn't talking to me," protested Anne. "He was talking to God and he didn't seem to be very much interested in it, either. I think he thought God was too far off to make it worthwhile. I said a little prayer myself, though. There was a long row of white birches hanging over the lake and the sunshine fell down through them, 'way, 'way down, deep into the water. Oh, Marilla, it was like a beautiful dream! It gave me a thrill and I just said, "Thank you for it, God," two or three times." (11.28)
Which do you think was a more heartfelt prayer, Mr. Bell's very official Sunday School prayer or Anne giving thanks for the birches and lake?
Marilla felt helplessly that all this should be sternly reproved, but she was hampered by the undeniable fact that some of the things Anne had said, especially about the minister's sermons and Mr. Bell's prayers, were what she herself had really though deep down in her heart for years, but had never given expression to. (11.35)
Not knowing better, Anne has criticized many elements of the local church. Marilla is torn between the idea that you shouldn't criticize anyone who's working for God and the fact that Anne's criticisms are on point. So she takes the middle road—she lets Anne get away with saying it, but doesn't say she agrees with Anne, either.
"Mrs. Allan said we should always try to influence other people for good. She talked so nice about everything. I never knew before that religion was such a cheerful thing. I always thought it was kind of melancholy, but Mrs. Allan's isn't, and I'd like to be a Christian if I could be one like her." (21.10)
Good thing the Allans came along. They're both so gentle and positive that they inspired an interest in religion in Anne. Probably because their approach appeals to Anne's sense of awe and imagination.
"Why, even Superintendent Bell came to see me, and he's really a very fine man. Not a kindred spirit, of course; but still I like him and I'm awfully sorry I ever criticized his prayers. I believe now he really does mean them, only he has got into the habit of saying them as if he didn't. He could get over that if he'd take a little trouble." (23.44)
Boring and honest are two different things, Anne learns. Both adjectives describe Mr. Bell.
"Do you suppose it's wrong for us to think so much about our clothes? Marilla says it is very sinful. But it is such an interesting subject, isn't it?" (29.15)
Marilla's religious views are pretty strict. She doesn't approve of fashion or trying to look good at all. But Anne likes to look pretty, and she isn't punished for it in the story, either. So even if Marilla thinks it's a sin, the author probably doesn't.
"If you are I guess I am too, Anne, for Rachel often has that effect on me. I sometimes think she'd have more of an influence for good, as you say yourself, if she didn't keep nagging people to do right. There should have been a special commandment against nagging. But there, I shouldn't talk so. Rachel is a good Christian woman and she means well. There isn't a kinder soul in Avonlea and she never shirks her share of the work." (31.8)
Here's proof that Marilla has changed. The Marilla in the beginning of the book would never have admitted aloud that Rachel Lynde makes her want to be a little sinful.
The joys of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship were to be hers; nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her ideal world of dreams. And there was always the bend in the road!
"God's in his heaven, all's right with this world," Anne whispered softly. (38.63-64)
The final line in the book comes back to God, and makes it clear what Anne finds godly: honest work, aspiration, and friendship.
"Pretty? Oh, pretty doesn't seem the right word to use. Nor beautiful, either. They don't go far enough. Oh, it was wonderful—wonderful. It's the first thing I ever saw that couldn't be improved upon by imagination. It just satisfied me here"—she put one hand on her breast—"it made a queer funny ache and yet it was a pleasant ache." (2.53)
Anne says this after she first sees the Avenue, a road arched with trees, which she will soon re-name "The White Way of Delight." It's the first thing that Anne sees that is so beautiful it stuns her silent. And she isn't even in Avonlea yet.
It was not of Marilla or himself he was thinking or of the trouble this mistake was probably going to make for them, but of the child's disappointment. When he thought of that rapt light being quenched in her eyes he had an uncomfortable feeling that he was going to assist at murdering something—much the same feeling that came over him when he had to kill a lamb or calf or any other innocent little creature. (2.76)
Matthew is partially right. Taking Anne inside where she'll find out she's unwanted will hit Anne pretty hard. Think about what it might have done to her, long-term, if they hadn't decided to keep her after all.
"Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them," exclaimed Anne. "You mayn't get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, "Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed." But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed." (14.21)
We understand why Marilla worries about Anne getting too excited about things. She doesn't want her to be devastated if they don't work out. But Anne's outlook is different: you might as well have fun looking forward to things because you may not get them.
Anne might plead and cry as she liked—and did, for her terror was very real. Her imagination had run away with her and she held the spruce grove in mortal dread after nightfall. But Marilla was inexorable. She marched the shrinking ghostseer down to the spring and ordered her to proceed straightway over the bridge and into the dusky retreats of wailing ladies and headless specters beyond. (20.32)
Ever heard the phrase "you reap what you sow?" Anne imagined herself a haunted woods, and now she has to deal with it…in the dark.
Marilla felt this and was vaguely troubled over it, realizing that the ups and downs of existence would probably bear hardly on this impulsive soul and not sufficiently understanding that the equally great capacity for delight might more than compensate. (22.5)
Here's another reminder (from the narrator this time) that Anne's high "ups" are worth the low "downs." It couldn't be more different from Marilla's sensible (but low-key) approach to living.
"I was walking the ridgepole and I fell off. I expect I have sprained my ankle. But, Marilla, I might have broken my neck. Let us look on the bright side of things." (23.30)
You've got to admire Anne's optimism. Her imagination allows her to envision a worse scenario and communicate it, even through her ankle pain.
"Don't give up all your romance, Anne," he whispered shyly, "a little of it is a good thing—not too much, of course—but keep a little of it, Anne, keep a little of it." (28.50)
We think Matthew has the right idea. An Anne without romance (not just love-romance, but also her love of Romantic era literature and tradition) is hardly Anne at all.
"I've dreamed of such things, Diana. But do you know I don't believe I feel very comfortable with them after all. There are so many things in this room and all so splendid that there is no scope for imagination. That is one consolation when you are poor—there are so many more things you can imagine about." (29.23)
Anne's imaginings are often better than the actual things she dreams about. You'd think this would make her says, but she says this to Diana in a matter-of-fact way.
"But I want to have a real good jolly time this summer, for maybe it's the last summer I'll be a little girl. Mrs. Lynde says that if I keep stretching out next year as I've done this I'll have to put on longer skirts. She says I'm all running to legs and eyes. And when I put on longer skirts I shall feel that I have to live up to them and be very dignified. It won't even do to believe in fairies then, I'm afraid; so I'm going to believe in them with all my whole heart this summer." (30.37)
In Anne's era, growing up comes with some visible fashion changes. Girls who are no longer children wear full-length skirts and wear their hair up. But it seems Anne also views growing up as having to button up her imagination.
"Oh, Diana, it's good to be back again. It's so good to see those pointed first coming out against the pink sky—and that white orchard and the old Snow Queen. Isn't the breath of the wind delicious? And that tea rose—why, it's a song and a hope and a prayer all in one. And it's good to see you again, Diana!" (36.19)
Anne did very well in school, but her sense of awe is restored when she returns to Green Gables. She marvels at the orchard and trees as if seeing them for the first time.
"There's such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that's why I'm such a troublesome person. If I was just one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so interesting." (20.5)
What Anne cares about varies from day to day, situation to situation. This is a common part of growing up—there are many versions of us inside ourselves.
"I mean to devote all my energies to being good after this and I shall never try to be beautiful again. Of course it's better to be good. I know it is, but it's sometimes so hard to believe a thing even when you know it. I do really want to be good, Marilla, like you and Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy, and grow up to be a credit to you." (27.42)
Anne keeps trying to push against her flighty nature and learn to be responsible not for herself, but for the people who are raising and pushing her.
For a moment Anne hesitated. She had an odd, newly awakened consciousness under all her outraged dignity that the half-shy, half-eager expression in Gilbert's hazel eyes was something that was very good to see. Her heart gave a quick, queer little beat. (28.33)
What do you think that "newly awakened consciousness" is? (wink wink, nudge nudge)
"Ever since I came to Green Gables I've been making mistakes, and each mistake has helped to cure me of some great shortcoming. The affair of the amethyst brooch cured me of meddling with things that didn't belong to me. The Haunted Woods mistake cured me of letting my imagination run away with me. The liniment cake cured me of carelessness in cooking. Dyeing my hair cured me of vanity. I never think about my hair and nose now—at least, very seldom. And today's mistake is going to cure me of being too romantic." (28.47)
Anne is definitely someone who learns through trial and error. This little bit of self-reflection is a turning point for Anne, forcing her to admit how much she's learned through her accidents. Anne makes fewer mistakes after this.
"Miss Barry put us in the spare room, according to promise. It was an elegant room, Marilla, but somehow sleeping in a spare room isn't what I used to think it was. That's the worst of growing up, and I'm beginning to realize it. The things you wanted so much when you were a child don't seem half so wonderful to you when you get them." (29.26)
Anne's fixation on sleeping in a spare room might seem odd to modern readers, but think of it this way: Anne is imagining being an honored guest in someone's home, rather than an orphan girl who didn't belong and probably had to sleep somewhere like the kitchen.
"I didn't mind promising not to read any more like it, but it was agonizing to give back that book without knowing how it turned out. But my love for Miss Stacy stood the test and I did. It's really wonderful, Marilla, what you can do when you're truly anxious to please a person." (30.12)
Anne owes a lot of her reformed bad behaviors to Miss Stacy, a teacher she loves, and who she wants to love her back. It takes a lot of love to endure the agony of giving a book back without finishing it.
Marilla loved the girl as much as the child, but she was conscious of a queer sorrowful sense of loss. And that night when Anne had gone to prayer meeting with Diana, Marilla sat alone in the wintry twilight and indulged in the weakness of a cry. (31.19)
Marilla is experiencing the sorrow of a first-time parent with the realization that they'll never get to see their child as a youth again. It's normal, but that doesn't make it easy.
"I don't know—I don't want to talk as much," she said, denting her chin thoughtfully with her forefinger. "It's nicer to think dear, pretty thoughts and keep them in one's heart, like treasures. I don't like to have them laughed at or wondered over." (31.24)
The biggest change in Anne's growing up is that she's no longer an open book. She values her privacy, and wants to keep some of her thoughts to herself.
"I'm not a bit changed—not really. I'm only just pruned down and branched out. The real me—back here—is just the same. It won't make a bit of difference where I got or how much I change outwardly; at heart I shall always be your little Anne, who will love you and Matthew and dear Green Gables more and better every day of her life." (34.7)
"Pruned down and branched out." Leave it to Anne to compare her growth to a tree. But a tree is mostly the same at its trunk, so maybe it's a good metaphor, too.
Jane was smiling and happy; examinations were over and she was comfortably sure she had made a pass at least; further considerations troubled Jane not at all; she had no soaring ambitions and consequently was not affected with the unrest attendant theron. For we pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self-denial, anxiety and discouragement. (36.1)
Anne is extremely ambitious, and it's true; she does pay a price for it. Instead of the happiness of knowing she passed, Anne has to endure the anxiety of wondering whether she passed at the top of her class, and won a prize for it.
Marilla looked at Anne and softened at sight of the child's pale face with its look of mute misery—the misery of a helpless little creature who finds itself once more caught in the trap from which it had escaped. Marilla felt an uncomfortable conviction that, if she denied the appeal of that look, it would haunt her to her dying day. Moreover, she did not fancy Mrs. Blewett. To hand a sensitive, "high-strung" child over to such a woman! No, she could not take the responsibility of doing that! (6.20)
Besides her religious beliefs, Marilla has another set of morals that some of the people around her, like Mrs. Spencer, don't seem to have. Marilla could choose to believe it isn't her responsibility where Anne ends up, since Anne came to her by accident in the first place. But Marilla sees Anne as a real person in need of help, and that's where her sense of duty kicks in.
"And, since you seem to want her, I suppose I'm willing—or have to be. I've been thinking over the idea until I've got kind of used to it. It seems like a sort of duty. I've never brought up a child, especially a girl, and I dare say I'll make a terrible mess of it." (6.32)
Marilla's reached a point where she doesn't see a choice. She has to keep Anne. Note that she doesn't use the word "like" at all when describing how she feels about Anne. Marilla's all duty and responsibility at this point.
Marilla was as fond of morals as the Duchess of Wonderland, and was firmly convinced that one should be tacked on to every remark made to a child who was being brought up. (8.42)
With no idea of how to teach a child, Marilla winds up parroting morals, as if that's the best way for a child to learn.
"I do not like patchwork," said Anne dolefully, hunting out her work-basket and sitting down before a little heap of red and white diamonds with a sigh. "I think some kinds of sewing would be nice; but there's no scope for imagination in patchwork. It's just one little seam after another and you never seem to be getting anywhere." (13.14)
Anne would do well with tasks that require creativity. But unfortunately, in this society, a lot of housework doesn't.
"Marilla is a famous cook. She is trying to teach me to cook but I assure you, Diana, it is uphill work. There's so little scope for imagination in cookery. You just have to go by the rules. The last time I made a cake I forgot to put the flour in. I was thinking the loveliest story about you and me, Diana." (16.28)
This seems to be the pattern of how Anne keeps messing up her household duties: halfway through the task, Anne starts imagining something; Anne forgets key step; Anne ruins whatever thing she's making. She just can't seem to turn her imagination off.
"And I'm so glad Mrs. Hammond had three pairs of twins after all. If she hadn't I mightn't have known what to do for Minnie May. I'm real sorry I was ever cross with Mrs. Hammond for having twins." (18.38)
Here's the first clue in the book that responsibilities can actually come in handy, and it's a pretty extreme example. Anne's job before Green Gables was to care for babies, and if she'd never learned to do it, Diana's baby sister would have died.
Therefore Marilla conceived it to be her duty to drill Anne into a tranquil uniformity of disposition as impossible and alien to her as to a dancing sunbeam in one of the brook shallows…Marilla had almost begun to despair of ever fashioning this waif of the world into her model little girl of demure manners and prim deportment. Neither would she have believed that she really liked Anne much better as she was. (22.5)
Poor Marilla. She really does believe that her job is to mold Anne into a prim, well-behaved little girl. And with the sunbeam analogy, the narrator is giving us a picture of just how impossible Marilla's goal is.
"Folks that has brought up children know that there's no hard and fast method in the world that'll suit every child. But them as never have think it's all as plain and easy as Rule of Three—just set your three terms down so fashion, and the sum'll work out correct. But flesh and blood don't come under the head of arithmetic and that's where Marilla Cuthbert makes her mistake." (25.30)
For someone who believes a lot of questionable things, Mrs. Lynde's thoughts on parenting are usually on point. Remember when she advised Marilla to let Anne stay home from school for a while rather than fight with her? We never meet her children in this book, so it's easy to forget that Rachel Lynde is a mother herself, having raised ten children, two of whom died. So this is an area where she does know what she's talking about.
"She is," said Marilla, "and she's real steady and reliable now. I used to be afraid she'd never get over her featherbrained ways, but she has and I wouldn't be afraid to trust her in anything now." (30.43)
Marilla never turned Anne prim or demure, but did fulfill her main duty: she made Anne a useful member of society, who has the ability to care for herself and others. And now Anne can take care of her, as well.
"It's a serious thing to grow up, isn't it, Marilla? But when I have such good friends as you and Matthew and Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy I ought to grow up successfully, and I'm sure it will be my own fault if I don't." (31.9)
Anne names all her female role models. Aside from Marilla, these are ladies who give her gentle advice but mainly lead by example. It's nice of Anne to recognize that she has a good amount of guidance, and it's her duty to hold up her end of trying to be a successful grown-up.