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Anne of Green Gables

L. M. Montgomery

Chapters 21–24

Chapters 17–20

Chapters 25–28

Summary—Chapter 21: A New Departure in Flavorings

On the last day of June, Anne returns from school with red eyes and a soaked handkerchief in her hand. The universally disliked schoolteacher, Mr. Phillips, is leaving his job, and his farewell speech made all the girls cry. The old minister, Mr. Bentley, has also given up his post, and the Avonlea congregation chooses a young man named Mr. Allan as Mr. Bentley’s successor. The congregation welcomes Mr. Allan and his pretty young wife into the community. Anne admires Mrs. Allan, who teaches Anne’s Sunday school class, because unlike the previous teacher she encourages the students to ask many questions.

Marilla invites Mr. and Mrs. Allan to tea, and works for days preparing a generous spread of food for the young couple. Marilla allows Anne to bake a layer cake. Even though Anne has baked many cakes, she is nervous nonetheless. The cake comes out of the oven looking beautiful, and Anne is proud to serve it to her new hero, Mrs. Allan. Mrs. Allan can hardly swallow the cake, but she eats it to spare Anne’s feelings. When Marilla tastes the cake herself, she asks Anne what ingredients she used. Marilla discovers that Anne accidentally used anodyne liniment instead of vanilla, making the cake taste awful. Anne is mortified and runs upstairs, throws herself on the bed, and weeps. Mrs. Allan cheers Anne up, and Anne begins to see some good in the embarrassing situation, saying at least she never makes the same mistake twice. She is relieved to think that once she has made all possible mistakes, she will be done making mistakes for good.

Summary—Chapter 22: Anne Is Invited Out to Tea

Returning from the post office, Anne is filled with excitement because Mrs. Allan has invited her to tea. Marilla explains that Mrs. Allan has invited all the children in her Sunday school class, but this news does not diminish Anne’s excitement. As usual, Marilla is troubled by Anne’s enthusiasm, believing it will cause Anne pain when reality does not live up to her expectations. Anne is nervous that she will forget her manners and offend Mrs. Allan. Marilla gives her etiquette advice and tells her not to think about how she should behave but to imagine what sorts of behavior would please Mrs. Allan. After tea, Anne describes her time at Mrs. Allan’s home. She admires Mrs. Allan so much that she says she wants to become a minister’s wife. She tells Marilla that, according to Mrs. Rachel, the school is getting a new teacher named Miss Muriel Stacy.

Summary—Chapter 23: Anne Comes to Grief in an Affair of Honor

At the end of summer, Diana Barry invites all the girls in the Sunday school class to her house for a party. Tired of their usual songs and games, the girls decide to embark on more adventurous activities. They dare each other to hop around the yard on one foot or climb a tree. Josie Pye, a sly girl whom Diana and Anne dislike, dares Anne to walk the ridgepole of the Barry’s kitchen roof. Diana tries to dissuade Anne from performing such a difficult dare, but Anne feels her honor is at stake, so she climbs to the top of the roof. She manages to walk a few steps before losing her balance, falling to the ground, and breaking her ankle. All the girls rush to her side, shrieking and crying.

When Marilla sees Mr. Barry carrying Anne back to Green Gables, she is terrified that something serious has happened. She realizes for the first time how much Anne means to her. Anne rests in bed for seven weeks and is pleased to find that many people in Avonlea care enough about her to visit. From her friends she hears all about the new teacher, Miss Stacy, who dresses beautifully and organizes recitations, nature walks, and physical exercises for her class. Anne thinks her new teacher will be a kindred spirit.

Summary—Chapter 24: Miss Stacy and Her Pupils Get Up a Concert

Anne enjoys her return to school in October. She especially adores her new teacher, and flourishes academically and personally in Miss Stacy’s innovative schoolhouse. Both Mrs. Rachel and Marilla disapprove of Miss Stacy’s novel teaching methods, which include sending boys to retrieve birds’ nests from the tops of trees to use as teaching tools and leading the children in daily exercises. In November, Miss Stacy announces that the school will put on a Christmas concert to raise money to buy a Canadian flag for the schoolhouse. Anne is even more excited than the rest of the students and anxiously awaits the performance of her two recitations. Marilla declares the concert “foolishness,” so Anne talks to Matthew about the concert. He reflects that he is glad that he has no part in bringing up Anne, since his lack of involvement allows him to spoil her.

Analysis—Chapters 21–24

Anne benefits from the teaching methods of Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy. Education under Mr. Phillips, Marilla, and Mr. Bell, Anne’s former Sunday school teacher, consists of memorizing and reciting facts and moral lessons, which grates on Anne’s imaginative spirit. The more interesting, innovative methods of Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy fit better with Anne’s learning style. In addition to learning schoolwork more readily, Anne begins to learn the nature of adulthood from her new teachers. When Mrs. Allan comforts her after the cake mishap, Anne begins to think more forgivingly of her own mistakes, telling Marilla that at least she learns from her errors.

Anne’s views about religion and school change because of her friendships with Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy. Previously, Anne says her prayers to oblige Marilla, but the pretty and kind Mrs. Allen helps Anne see that organized religion need not be painful or boring. For Anne, religion no longer means foreign, dull speeches and rules; under Mrs. Allan’s tutelage, religion becomes interesting, especially because Mrs. Allan allows her pupils to ask questions about it. Similarly, Miss Stacy’s new, liberal form of education allows Anne to enjoy learning for its own sake. When Anne first comes to Avonlea, she advances quickly in her studies in order to irk her rival, Gilbert, but this model of academic success depends largely on the presence of an enemy. Now, Anne can rely on herself alone. She sees that learning can be an exercise of imagination rather than a chore of rote memorization.

Marilla’s affection for Anne continues to grow. When she sees Mr. Barry carrying Anne across the field, she realizes in a flash that she loves Anne more than she loves anything else in the world. Even what seems like unnecessary sternness is simply Marilla’s affection for Anne. For example, when Marilla tries to dampen Anne’s enthusiasm for the tea party, she does it not out of mean-spiritedness, but because she hates to think of Anne’s hopes dashed, and wants to save her from disappointment.

Avonlea is a community caught between tradition and modernity, especially in its views on women. Characters such as Mrs. Rachel hold beliefs that seem to be in tension with one another. On the one hand, Mrs. Rachel feels that women should be given the right to vote—a liberal and progressive view. The Cuthberts, true to their generally conservative characters, oppose Mrs. Rachel in this belief. At the same time, however, Mrs. Rachel believes it “a dangerous innovation” for the Avonlea trustees to hire a female teacher. As women’s roles change, Mrs. Rachel’s contradictory views on women represent the Avonlea community as a whole. She does not wholly support independence and power for women, but she supports it in part. She believes simultaneously in tradition and in progress.

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