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The Secret Garden

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter XIII

Chapter XII

Chapter XIV

Summary

That night, the sound of the rain drumming upon the windows awakens Mary. She is greatly miserable at the onset of the storm, because she knows that it will keep her confined to the manor house all the following day. Once so awakened, she is too upset to go back to sleep. The wind and rain sound to Mary like human wails-"like a person lost on the moor and wandering on and on crying."

After lying awake for nearly an hour, Mary hears something beneath the sound of the storm: the same cries she heard in the corridor, as of a child weeping. In complete defiance of Mrs. Medlock's command that she keep to her room, she goes off in search of its source. Mary follows the noise through Misselthwaite's darkened corridors, until she finds the door to a room in which a light is still burning.

Upon entering the room, Mary finds a thin, curious-looking boy lying upon a massive four-poster bed. The boy is as white as a statue, as though he has been ill, and he is crying. Each child is not certain whether the other is a ghost, or a dream, and, for a long while, they simply stare speechlessly at one other. The boy is Colin Craven, Master Craven's son. He was born ten years before, in the same year in which Mary was born and the secret garden locked shut. Colin's father cannot bear to see him, as Colin reminds him of his late wife; the boy resembles her, and was born only shortly before she died. Archibald is ashamed of how sickly Colin is, and has forbidden the servants to speak of him. Everyone fears that he will become a hunchback and die before he reaches adulthood. Colin himself hates to be looked at, because he despises the pity and morbid fascination he inspires. He refuses to leave the manor house, and spends all his time shut up in his grand gloomy room. Colin does not mind, however, if Mary looks at him, as he is greatly interested in who she is and where she comes from. Mary is only too happy to stay in the hidden room and talk to the hidden boy—both remind her of the secret garden. Colin tells Mary that his father gives him anything he wants to amuse himself with; everyone must obey his wishes, as it "makes [him] ill to be angry."

When Mary mentions the secret garden to Colin, he begins bombarding her with questions. He threatens to force the servants tell him everything they know about the garden, and calmly states again that everyone must obey his wishes, as he may one day be master of Misselthwaite-provided that he lives.

To distract him from the question of the garden, Mary asks Colin if he truly believes that he will die. Colin tells her that he imagines that he will, for people have been saying that he will not live to adulthood since his birth. Colin's doctor is Archibald Craven's brother, and it would suit the doctor well if Colin died, since the manor would then belong to him. It was the thought of his impending death that caused Colin to weep.

Colin tells Mary that he wants to see the secret garden more desperately than he has ever wanted anything, and that he intends to make the servants take him to it. Mary anxiously replies that the garden will be utterly spoiled if everyone knows of it. It is glorious because it is a secret. Colin, who has never had a secret before, agrees to keep this one.

At Colin's instruction, Mary draws back a rose-colored curtain hanging over the mantelpiece to reveal a picture of a laughing woman with gray eyes exactly like Colin's own. Colin tells Mary that this is a portrait of his mother. It is kept covered for two contradictory reasons: on the one hand, Colin dislikes that she is laughing while he is so ill and unhappy; on the other, he thinks of her as his treasure, one which he does not wish to share with anyone. He almost hates her for dying, for he believes that he would not have been sick, and his father would not have despised him, if only she had lived. Mary tells Colin that she will continue looking for the door to the garden, and the two children decide to keep their meeting a secret. Before leaving, Mary sings him to sleep with a Hindustani lullaby that her Ayah used to sing to her.

Analysis

The motif of secrets is greatly enlarged upon in this chapter in a number of ways; the secrets include the portrait of Colin's mother, Colin's room, and the person of Colin himself. The forbidden quality of Colin's bedchamber is similar to the fairy-tale story of Bluebeard and his wife. Like Bluebeard's wife, Mary finds her own curiosity irrepressible. She does not, however, try to repress it: her contrariness inspires her to disobey all prohibitions.

The similarity of this scene to a fairy-tale is borne out by the way in which neither Colin nor Mary is certain at first that the other is not a dream; this blurry distinction between fantasy and reality is, in some sense, the definition of a fairy story. The question of whether this is all a dream also arises, in some measure, because both Mary and Colin are awakening from a long sleep: their meeting (particularly for Colin) heralds their complete re-awakening. As Mary remarks: "It looks quite like a dream...[because] everybody in the house is asleep-everybody but us. We are wide awake."

The first meeting between the two children makes it quite clear that they have lived what might be called parallel lives: both are precisely ten years old; both were burdened with parents who could not bear to look at them; both have passed sickly, neglected childhoods that have left them unbelievably spoiled; and both have been denied and hidden away like secrets by the parents. Upon seeing Colin, Mary exclaims, "I never knew [Master Craven] had a child!" This outburst precisely echoes the reaction of the British soldiers upon discovering Mary in the bungalow.

The fact that both children have been kept as secrets explains why they determine to keep their meeting a secret, and why the idea of a secret garden is so appealing to both of them; the latter is even attractive enough to inspire the spoiled Colin to be patient. When one is a secret, one is not able to keep secrets of one's own; the fact that Colin and Mary now share this one indicates that they are acquiring a new power and independence.

It is important to note, however, that Colin has at least one other secret: the portrait of his mother that he keeps concealed behind a "rose-colored" curtain. The curtain continues the association of the Mistress Craven with roses, and also further aligns her with the secret garden; she, too, has been "shut away" for the past ten years. As in the case of the secret garden, it is love of Mistress Craven that partially inspires the concealment. As Colin says, "She is mine and I do not want everyone to see her."

At the close of the chapter, Mary takes care of Colin as her Ayah took care of her: she tells him stories and sings him a Hindustani song. This action implicitly positions her as both his caretaker and his subordinate, and foreshadows the way in which Colin will subordinate her on the narrative level by replacing her as the primary protagonist. Colin is the true master of Misselthwaite, and is Archibald Craven's heir; Mary, by contrast, is only a girl, and has no authorized position in the house to speak of.

The natural landscape is again depicted as conspiring with and mirroring its human inhabitants: it is the "wuthering" (howling) of the wind that awakens Mary and alerts her to Colin's crying. The sound of the wind seems almost to imitate Master Colin.

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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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7 out of 33 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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1 out of 2 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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4 out of 4 people found this helpful

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