When Anne arrives in Avonlea, she is a stray waif with a pitiable past, but she quickly establishes herself in Green Gables and the Avonlea community. She is not useful to Matthew and Marilla, her guardians, who wanted a boy orphan to help out on the farm. Still, Anne’s spirit brings vitality to the narrow, severe atmosphere at Green Gables. Her desire for beauty, imagination, and goodness motivates her behavior. Although some people, like Matthew, recognize Anne’s admirable qualities from the beginning, others misunderstand Anne and think her unorthodox behavior evidence of immorality. The very traits that make Anne unique and enrich her inner life also cause her to act passionately and stubbornly and to bungle chores. Reveries and daydreams constantly absorb her, taking up attention that Marilla feels should be spent thinking of decorum and duty.

As a child, Anne loves and hates with equal fervor. She makes lifelong alliances with people she considers kindred spirits and holds years-long grudges against people who cross her. Anne’s terrible temper flares at minimal provocations, and she screams and stamps her foot when anger overtakes her. Anne lusts for riches and elegance. She despises her red hair and longs for smooth ivory skin and golden hair. She imagines that which displeases her as different than what it is, dreaming up a more perfect world. As she grows older, Anne mellows. Her temper improves, she ceases to hate her looks, she appreciates the simplicity of her life and prefers it to riches, and although her imagination still serves her well, she loves the world as it is.