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The Secret Garden

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter XIV

Chapter XIII

Chapter XV

Summary

The next day, the rainstorm continues unabated. Mary tells Martha that she has met Colin. Martha was supposed to be guarding Colin's room during the night, but had fallen asleep and thus made it possible for Mary to creep in unnoticed. She is certain that she will lose her position in the house, but Mary reassures her, saying that Colin will not permit that to happen. Martha tells Mary that all the servants fear Colin's wrath, for he knows that "[their] souls are not [their] own"-that is, he knows that, since they are servants, they are utterly dependent upon him for their survival. Mary tells Martha that Colin wishes to visit with her every day. Martha is astonished, for Colin is famous for throwing tantrums when confronted with strangers; it is as though Mary "bewitched him." Mary says that it was not magic that drew the two of them together. She also vows that she will not see Colin if he becomes angry with her, to which Martha implacably replies that everyone must obey his wishes. A bell summons Martha to Colin's room, where he tells her that he wishes to speak with Mary immediately. Mary agrees, as she actually wants to see Colin—though not so much as she wants to see Dickon. In his opulent room, Mary tells Colin that he reminds her of a child rajah (king) that she saw while she was in India. The rajah's servants were obliged to comply with his every command, or they would lose their lives. Mary tells him that he is very unlike Dickon, who can charm the moor animals as fakirs in India can charm snakes. Dickon has taught her to love the moor, and she tells Colin that he would too, if only he could see it. Annoyed, he replies that he is far too ill to go out on the moor. Mary is unsympathetic to his talk of illness and death, and tells him that he needn't die, even if everyone expects and wants him to: she declares, "If everyone wished I would [die], I wouldn't." Colin thinks a moment, and then says that only one person did not seem to think he would die. This person, a great doctor from London, had said that Colin might live if only he could make up his mind to do so. Mary thinks that a visit from Dickon could help Colin make up his mind to live, for Dickon cares so much for living things, for the plants and animals of the moor. The two cease to think of death, and begin to talk about Dickon and his family, as well as of the coming spring-to act, in short, like the children they actually are. In the midst of their laughter, Mrs. Medlock and Colin's uncle, Dr. Craven, enter the room. The adults are shocked to see the two children together, but Colin, in his Rajah-like way, informs them that Mary and he are now friends, and will see each other whenever they please. The doctor tells Colin that he mustn't forget that he is ill. Colin, his strange eyes glittering, tells him that that is precisely why he loves for Mary to visit him: she makes him forget his illness.

Analysis

Mary and Colin's friendship is only possible because they are so similar in temperament and circumstances. Mary's statement that she and Colin "stared" at each other bears this idea out, in that Colin does not mind being looked at by her because she too has been a secret. The word "stare" here also implies an equal, reciprocal relation: Colin is not merely a spectacle to Mary, any more than she is a spectacle to him. They meet on equal footing, as two ten-year-old children; there is no pity on either side. Mary's lack of pity is beneficial to Colin, even as it empowers her to disobey his commands. Mary vows that she will not go to Colin if he tries to command her. This is decision is in stark contrast to the complete obedience of the servants, who have no choice but to comply with Colin's every whim—like the Indian rajah's slaves, they depend upon him for their very survival. The extreme class inequality between Colin and his servants is evidenced by the fact that the virtuous Martha could lose her position at Colin's whim, thereby casting her family of fourteen into starvation. In Martha's extraordinary phrase, "[the servants'] souls are not [their] own": these, too, belong to Master Colin. Though the novel does not explicitly criticize this terrible inequality in turn-of-the-century British society, the modern American reader cannot help marveling at it. This chapter provides the fullest elaboration of Christian Science principles thus far. The idea that Colin only became ill because of the anxiety that attended his birth and early childhood arises out of the Christian Scientist notion that negative thinking, in and of itself, is enough to cause disease. A number of people (Mrs. Sowerby, the grand doctor from London, and Mary herself) express the belief that Colin would live if he only stopped thinking about death and "made up his mind" to survive. This provides the converse of the Christian Scientist idea elaborated above, which holds that positive thinking is the most powerful healing force. This is why Colin says, at chapter's end, that his "forgetting" of his illness is the source of Mary's excellent effect upon him: she makes it possible for him to silence his negative thoughts. This chapter also implies that the agents of Colin's rebirth will be extremely similar to Mistress Mary's: Mary uses stories of the Sowerbys, the garden, the moor, and the person of Dickon to engage and revitalize Colin, because these things attended her own re-awakening. Mary says that Dickon could help Colin decide to live because "he is always talking about live things"—Dickon would also make it impossible for Colin to think negative thoughts.

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The Secret Garden(you do not need the spark notes for this book)

by KingSize4, May 02, 2013

This book is very easy to understand so you do not need the spark notes.

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9 out of 43 people found this helpful

Review available here

by RandomlyAbstract, June 28, 2013

Hey! I just wrote a review for this novel because I really enjoyed reading it! You can find the review here:

http://www.shvoong.com/books/classic-literature/2379569-secret-garden/


Let me know what you think.

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2 out of 4 people found this helpful

spark notes secret garden

by tryepic4, September 05, 2013

I love the secret garden!!!!!!!!!
I love sparknotes!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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8 out of 9 people found this helpful

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