Study Guide

Anne of Green Gables Man and the Natural World

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Man and the Natural World

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.

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