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Anne of Green Gables

by: L. M. Montgomery

Important Quotations Explained

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Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing.

Anne expresses this opinion in Chapter 35, as she prepares for her exams at Queen’s Academy. Earlier in the novel, Anne thinks that success is beating everyone else and humiliating her rival Gilbert Blythe in the process. She would rather fail utterly than come in second place behind Gilbert. This definition of success motivates Anne, inspiring her to work hard in school for the pleasure of triumphing over Gilbert. Once Anne is at college, however, her definition of success begins to shift. She comes to think affectionately of her rivalry with Gilbert, and although she still enjoys the competition, she wants to win for herself, not for the pleasure of seeing Gilbert embarrassed. She performs onstage at the White Sands Hotel despite her terrible nervousness, because she feels that to fail to try is far more humiliating than to try and fail. She also performs because she sees Gilbert in the audience. It seems she cannot bear to fail in front of him because she does not want to disappoint her worthy opponent.