Sunday, February 22, 2015

Schoolmarm, surrogate mother, and village improver by age 16!

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

This second book in the series is just as enjoyable as the first! I love an author who can successfully introduce new characters and expand the plot with each series installment, and Montgomery does just that. New loves, old loves, reunited loves, old neighbors, new neighbors, new house partners, and...a whole new adventure for Anne! At beginning and end!

I never cease to be amazed by the short childhoods--adult roles when only 13, 14, 15, or 16! I still can't imagine that! Though I do realize times were different, lifespans shorter, etc., but this makes me more aware of the extremely long childhood we have now.

As a former schoolteacher, I can fully realize Anne's idealistic ambitions regarding discipline and guidance to her students. And, overall, I do agree with her philosophy, but as she learns, there are some students for whom kindness and a respectful role model are just not enough to earn their respect and cooperation! Though the event with Anthony Pye represents nothing so much to her as a true lapse of her underlying pedagogy and an action never to be repeated, it did however, change Anthony's assessment of her permanently--in a good way! It does provide an opportunity for Mrs. Allan to philosophize with Anne later: 
  "Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so just put it behind you. We should 
regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into 
the future with us. (page 130)
Definitely words to live by! Objectively, Anne realizes that her students taught her much more the she taught them, "lessons of tenderness, self control, innocent wisdom, lore of childish hearts." (page 253) Isn't that so true? If we pay attention we can learn so much!!

Perhaps one of the most poignant and interesting themes is the demonstration of neighbor helping neighbor, even to the point of allowing another person to live in our own home with you when they would otherwise be homeless. I do realize that unlike now, people living in these villages were quite isolated, hence they must help each other or watch "neighbors" suffer. However, even given that, Marilla's kindness and generosity is, to me, unlimited and ever amazing. I am so glad Anne was the type person to willingly sacrifice for Marilla's health and well-being, for Marilla is certainly very deserving of such consideration in return! And in the end, it has afforded Anne further possibilities for development, beyond what she might have imagined possible in the recent past!

There were several "Stephanie Plum" moments in this book. (Yes, I do love the Evanovich series!) They definitely made me laugh out loud! (1) Anne is thoroughly vexed when she sees her jersey cow, Dolly, out in the middle of Mr. Harrison's "field of late oats" yet once again! She and Diana wade out into the field, getting all muddy in the process, and on impulse Anne sells Dolly outright to Mr. Shearer as he drives past on the road. Only one hitch...the just-sold jersey cow was actually Mr. Harrison's own, for as Anne checked once she reached home, Dolly was out in her pen right where she belonged the whole time! But Anne works out a trade with Mr. Harrison and all parties are satisfied. (I think the cake she delivers to him helps soften him up a bit!) (2) Anne is in no mood for silliness on the day she teaches with a severe toothache and insists upon forcing a student to place an otherwise innocent-looking package into the stove in the middle of the school house...let's just say "fireworks ensued"... ;)  (3) Little did Anne know that borrowing a platter would end up with her literally stuck in a roof, as the rain poured down and she waited for help! Now THAT was funny! :)

Davy and Dora add much to Marilla and Anne's lives; much frustration on occasion, at least with Davy's mischievousness! 
  With all his faults he's really a dear little chap. I can't help loving him, 
Marilla, it may be a dreadful thing to say, but honestly, I like Davy better 
than Dora, for all she's so good."
  I don't know but that I do, myself," confessed Marilla, "and it isn't fair, for 
Dora isn't a bit of trouble. There couldn't be a better child and you'd hardly 
know she was in the house."
  "Dora is too good," said Anne. "She'd behave just as well if there wasn't a 
soul to tell her what to do. She was born already brought up, so she doesn't 
need us; and I think," concluded Anne, hitting on a very vital truth, "that we 
always love best the people who need us. Davy needs us badly." 
  "He certainly needs something," agreed Marilla. "Rachel Lynde would say it 
was a good spanking." (page 82-83)

However, Anne inadvertently proffers a good motivation to Davy--to be as good as Paul Irving--the student with whom she most closely identifies and her one truly "kindred spirit" among all the school children. Paul has an imagination similar to Anne's, particularly when she was his age, whereas Davy is a very literal fellow. But that does not deter Davy from trying to be Anne's favorite or to at least measure up to Paul! Anne and Davy discuss the fact that it is "very bad indeed" to tell "whoppers," uhm...I mean "falsehoods"!
  "Then," said Davy decidedly, "Marilla is bad, for she tells them. And she's 
worse'n me, for I didn't know it was wrong, but she does."
  "Davy Keith, Marilla never told a story in her life," said Anne indignantly. 
  "She did so. She told me last Tuesday that something dreadful would
happen to me if I didn't say my prayers every night. And I haven't said them 
for over a week, just to see what would happen...and nothing has," 
concluded Davy in an aggrieved tone.
  Anne choked back a mad desire to laugh with the conviction that it would   
be fatal, and then earnestly set about saving Marilla's reputation.
  "Why, Davy Keith,' she said solemnly, "something dreadful has happened 
to you this very day."
  Davy looked skeptical. "I s'pose you mean being sent to bed without any supper," he said scornfully, "but that isn't dreadful. Course I don't like it, but 
I've been sent to bed so much since I come here that I'm getting used to it. And you don't save anything by making me go without supper either, for I always eat twice as much for breakfast." (pages 80-81)
I felt as if I should stifle my own laughter as I read this passage! There are many times during the years of parenting my own three sons that I experienced just such situations, and actually sometimes I did laugh...just because!! The children's comments were so honest and heartfelt, and the logic at times so literal and therefore seemingly skewed! :)

One thing I can always appreciate about Anne is that she doesn't really gossip. As with her knowledge of Judson Parker's underhanded behavior in selling his vote; I believe she is correct when she says she would have never said a word to anyone else. Now that I can respect! 

There are two relationships revealed in this book that were split asunder due to wounded pride, anger, and holding grudges. Thankfully, these couples were reunited, but, as Gilbert states,   
  "...wouldn't it have been more beautiful...if there had been no separation or misunderstanding...if they had come hand in hand all the way through life, with no memories behind them but those which belonged to each other?" 
  For a moment Anne's heart fluttered queerly and for the first time her eyes faltered under Gilbert's gaze and a rosy flush stained the paleness of her face. It was as if a veil that had hung before her inner consciousness had been lifted, giving to her view a revelation of unsuspected feelings and realities. Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one's life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one's side like an old friend through quiet ways..."  (page 276)   

Gilbert "had made up his mind...that his future must be worthy of his goddess...he meant to keep himself worthy of Anne's friendship and perhaps some distant day, her love..." (page 168)                                
That Gilbert is a woman's dream come true, is he not? Anne deserves such pure devotion, in my opinion! 

Have you read this second book in the Green Gables series? I am so glad I joined the Green Gables Read-Along! Join us!         


  1. I read this series in grade school, and I still have almost all of the books. I can't wait until my daughter is old enough for us to read them together.

  2. I can understand wanting to share them with her. My set will go to my oldest son's household of 6 children when I have read all of them! I have three sons and no daughters, :) Although males should be able to enjoy them just as well.