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Anne of Green Gables

L. M. Montgomery

Chapters 13–16

Chapters 9–12

Chapters 17–20

Summary—Chapter 13: The Delights of Anticipation

Marilla fumes as she looks out the window and sees Anne talking to Matthew forty-five minutes after she was supposed to go inside and do chores. Marilla’s anger diminishes as Anne bursts into the room and joyfully describes the Sunday school picnic planned for the following week. She cannot wait to attend and to have her first taste of ice cream. When Marilla agrees to let her attend and says she will bake a basket of food for Anne to take along, Anne flies into her arms and kisses her cheek. Marilla flushes with warmth, though she disguises her pleasure with an injunction to Anne to be more obedient. Anne talks excitedly about her adventures with Diana and especially about their playhouse in the woods, which is composed of discarded pieces of board and china.

When Marilla tries to hush Anne and quell her excitement about the upcoming picnic, Anne replies that she would rather look forward to things and risk disappointment than follow advice from stodgy ladies like Mrs. Rachel who say, “Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.” Anne says she was disappointed when she finally saw a diamond because it was not half as beautiful as she had imagined. She envisioned that a diamond was as colorful as the best amethyst, a stone that pleases both Anne and Marilla. Marilla has an amethyst brooch, her most prized possession, which she wears to church. Anne loves it so much that she begs Marilla to let her hold it for a minute.

Summary—Chapter 14: Anne’s Confession

Two days before the picnic, Marilla notices that her brooch is missing. She asks Anne if she touched it, and Anne admits that while Marilla was out for the afternoon, she saw it in Marilla’s room and tried it on just for a moment. Marilla, after searching her room thoroughly, realizes that Anne must have lost the brooch. Anne denies she lost it, steadfastly maintaining that she put it back. Marilla, however, cannot reconcile Anne’s story with the fact that the brooch is nowhere to be found, and she sends Anne to her room, declaring that she must stay there until she confesses.

On the day of the picnic, Anne decides to confess. In poetic, theatrical language, she explains that she borrowed the brooch so that she could imagine she was Lady Cordelia and then accidentally dropped it into the Lake of Shining Waters. Marilla is furious that Anne lied and that she seems to feel no remorse. She orders Anne to stay in her room and tells her she cannot attend the picnic—a sentence Anne thinks unjust, since Marilla promised she could leave her room once she confessed. Anne throws a fit. Matthew suggests that Marilla is being a bit harsh, but he cannot think of a good defense for Anne.

Marilla, trying to busy herself with chores, goes to fetch a black shawl that needs mending. When she picks it up, she catches sight of the brooch hanging from a thread. Realizing she was at fault the whole time and that Anne was telling the truth when she said she didn’t lose it, Marilla goes to Anne to apologize. She feels sorry for treating Anne as she did and has to squelch a desire to laugh at Anne’s invented confession. She scolds Anne for confessing to a deed she did not commit but admits she forced Anne to lie. Anne goes to her picnic and comes home overjoyed, telling stories about her adventures and about the indescribable taste of ice cream.

Summary—Chapter 15: A Tempest in the School Teapot

Anne and Diana take the most scenic route to school every day, walking on roads Anne has renamed Lover’s Lane and Willowmere and Violet Vale. Anne is thrilled to have a bosom friend in Diana and is willing to overlook Diana’s average imagination. Because Anne loves Diana so much, she lets Diana call a place the Birch Path, even though the name lacks Anne’s spark of originality. Marilla had worried that Anne’s temper, talkativeness, and oddities would cause her trouble at school, but Anne turns out to be a smart pupil and quickly adjusts. The other girls include her in their potluck lunches and exchange of small gifts. Anne dislikes boys and does not like the idea of flirting with them, though she is humiliated by the thought that boys are unlikely to flirt with her.

Anne’s world expands from the quiet life at Green Gables to the bustling gossipy schoolroom at Avonlea. Her usual chatter to Marilla about flowers and nature changes to reports on school. The teacher, Mr. Phillips, pays little attention to the pupils in his one-room school and lets them run amok as he sits in the back row flirting with the oldest student, Prissy Andrews. Prissy is sixteen and studying for her entrance exam to college.

Though Anne has received little schooling previously and is consequently one reading level behind her peers, she is quickly recognized as the smartest in the class. She takes pride in her intelligence, although she says she would rather be beautiful than smart. As Diana and Anne walk to school one day, Diana warns Anne she should not take for granted her status as smartest pupil, since Gilbert Blythe, the handsomest and smartest boy at school, will soon return to class. When she sees Gilbert, Anne agrees that he is handsome. But, unlike all the other girls, she is uninterested in him. Intrigued by the new girl who refuses to look at him, Gilbert tries to get her attention. He reaches across the aisle and whispers “Carrots,” as he tweaks her braid. Anne’s quick temper flares, and she jumps up, yelling at him and smashing a slate over his head.

Mr. Phillips, busy flirting with Prissy, ignores Gilbert’s attempt to take the blame, refuses to listen to Anne’s side of the story, and punishes her by making her stand in front of the class for the rest of the day. Several times, Gilbert tries to apologize and make peace with Anne, but she ignores him each time. The next day, Mr. Phillips decides to make an example of pupils who return to school late after the lunch break. The boys and Anne, who is daydreaming alone, arrive late. Rather than go through the trouble of punishing all the latecomers, Mr. Phillips picks Anne out of the crowd and makes her sit next to Gilbert Blythe, a punishment Anne thinks unfair and humiliating. At the end of the day, Anne packs up her desk and solemnly tells Diana that sitting next to Gilbert was excruciating and that she will never return to school.

Anne goes home and tells Marilla she will not go back to school. Marilla sympathizes with Anne. She goes to Mrs. Rachel for advice and decides that she will let Anne stay at home until she wants to return to school.

Summary—Chapter 16: Diana Is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results

One beautiful October morning, Marilla announces that she will be away for the day and says that Anne should assume responsibility for running the house. She adds that Anne may invite Diana over for tea, leaving specific instructions about what Anne can serve Diana. During their tea, the girls, clad in their second-best dresses, act ladylike and proper, inquiring after each other’s health and families until Anne suggests they go outside and pick apples, at which point they resume their normal girlish familiarity.

When the girls return inside for tea, Diana accepts a cup of raspberry cordial, a drink reserved for special occasions that Marilla has given the girls permission to drink that day. As Diana drinks a second glass and then a third, Anne tells stories about her ineptness in the kitchen. One time, she forgot to put flour in a cake. Another time, she neglected to cover plum-pudding sauce with a cloth, which she was using as a white veil. The next day, she found a mouse drowned in the sauce; she had planned to tell Marilla, but then got lost in another daydream. Two very stylish people came to tea, and just as Marilla was about to serve the plum pudding and sauce, Anne remembered her mistake and shouted out the whole mouse story, much to Marilla’s embarrassment. When Anne finishes her story, Diana stands up unsteadily and announces she does not feel well and must leave. Anne presses her to stay, but Diana insists on stumbling home.

Two days later, Anne hears from Mrs. Rachel that Diana was not sick but drunk. Marilla realizes that Anne mistook the bottle of red currant wine for raspberry cordial and accidentally gave Diana alcohol. Mrs. Barry is furious, assuming that Anne intentionally intoxicated Diana. When Marilla goes to explain to Mrs. Barry that Anne made an innocent mistake, she is met with a stony countenance and harsh words. Mrs. Barry will not forgive Anne and has ordered Diana never to speak to Anne again. Anne begs Mrs. Barry to soften her sentence, but Mrs. Barry is resolute. Anne despairs at the prospect of being separated from Diana forever.

Analysis—Chapters 13–16

The schoolroom at Avonlea absorbs Anne and becomes the focus of her world. For the first time, Anne befriends many children her age. Instead of talking to plants or her reflection, as she did in the orphan asylum, she find people with whom she can interact. Although she has not had any practice socializing with peers, she manages to learn quickly the rules and manners of the social world. Similarly, her lack of formal education does not prevent her from absorbing the rules of reading, writing, and mathematics. As Anne tries to make sense of the new rules, she has some difficulty reconciling them with her own code of behavior. For example, Diana and all the other girls are accustomed to Gilbert Blythe’s barbs and have grown to enjoy attention from him. Anne, a stranger to such friendly teasing, is offended and enraged when he calls her “Carrots.” Unfamiliar with the ways in which young people interact with each other, she cannot understand that Gilbert’s comment is not meant to be an insult but is rather just an instance of teasing.

As Anne’s social world changes, the content of her communication changes. Before, she talks to Marilla about nature and her imagination, but now she cannot stop talking about school events and friends. Her absorption in the minutiae of the girls’ social events reveals that, despite her eccentricities, Anne is not fundamentally different from the other girls her age. Her quick assimilation into the society of the schoolhouse suggests the power of peers to influence behavior, as well as the human ability to learn rapidly and conform to cultural norms.

The schoolroom replicates the adult world. The girls gossip as Mrs. Rachel does, for example, and their play mimics adult behavior. At tea, Anne and Diana act ladylike in imitation of their elders. Montgomery illustrates the danger of mimicking adult behavior with the episode of Diana’s drunkenness. Although Marilla and Mrs. Barry constantly prepare their girls to act like proper adults, when the girls make an innocent mistake in the process of trying to act grown up, the adults punish them.

Marilla continues to change and become a better parent. Just as Anne has to apologize earlier for lashing out at Mrs. Rachel, in these chapters Marilla learns to apologize for her mistaken assumptions. She feels bad about forcing Anne to lie and admits to her own mistake. Marilla becomes increasingly effective at managing Anne’s stubbornness and hot temper. When Anne comes home from school set on never returning, Marilla agrees to let her stay home. This leniency is new to Marilla, a product of her growing understanding of Anne and the mellowing effect that Anne has on her.

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