Anne of Green Gables

by: L. M. Montgomery

Chapters 9–12

Summary Chapters 9–12

Summary—Chapter 11: Anne’s Impressions of Sunday School

Marilla shows Anne the three new dresses she has made for her, all of which are ugly and none of which has the puffed sleeves that Anne wants. To make up for the ugliness of the dresses, Anne imagines they are as beautiful and ornate as the dresses she has seen other girls wearing. The next day, Anne goes to church and Sunday school alone, wearing one of her new dresses. On the way, she picks a bunch of flowers and decorates her otherwise plain hat with them, an eccentric adornment that causes other Avonlea churchgoers to scoff.

After church, Anne reports to Marilla that the service did not impress her. She says that the minister’s sermon, the prayer, and the Sunday school teacher’s prim questions were all unimaginative. Anne was able to survive the boring morning only by looking out the window and daydreaming. Marilla scolds Anne for her inattention at church but inwardly agrees with her. Although she never articulates her own criticisms of the minister, Mr. Bentley, and the Sunday school teacher, Mr. Bell, she, like Anne, has always felt that the church service is boring and uninspiring.

Summary—Chapter 12: A Solemn Vow and Promise

Mrs. Rachel tells Marilla that Anne put flowers in her hat at church, making herself the laughingstock of the congregation. When Marilla reprimands Anne for doing something so inappropriate, Anne bursts into tears. She does not understand what she did wrong, since the flowers were beautiful and other girls had artificial flowers in their hats. Anne’s mood quickly changes when she learns they are to visit the Barrys that afternoon. Anne has dreamed of becoming bosom friends with Diana Barry, and she now trembles with nervousness. Marilla warns her not to say anything startling or to use too many big words in front of Mrs. Barry, who has a reputation for strictness.

At the Barry’s house, Anne and Diana go out to the garden to play and immediately strike up a friendship. Anne’s first words to Diana are a heartfelt proposition of friendship. She creates an oath of eternal devotion for them to swear. On the walk back to Green Gables, Anne blissfully tells Marilla that she has found a kindred spirit in the plump, pretty, raven-haired Diana. When Matthew gives Anne chocolates he has bought for her, Anne asks to be allowed to share them with Diana. She says she will enjoy her chocolate even more if she can give half of it to her new friend. Marilla, pleased by Anne’s generous spirit, tells Matthew she cannot imagine what life would be like without Anne.

Analysis—Chapters 9–12

In each succeeding chapter, Montgomery illustrates her characters in greater depth and detail. Each chapter contains a small story, and as the stories accumulate, we can trace the evolution of the characters and their relationships with one another. In Chapters 9 through 12, Anne blows up at Mrs. Rachel, apologizes, goes to church, and meets Diana Barry. Over the course of these events, Anne demonstrates her willingness to learn and to follow the rules of society. She begins by throwing a wild tantrum, but she ends by apologizing for her bad deeds. Matthew changes too: at the beginning of the novel, he dislikes interacting with women, even hesitating to nod at them on the street. In these chapters, however, he becomes a warm father figure who takes increasing pleasure in spoiling Anne. Matthew and Anne are “kindred spirits,” and in his dealings with Anne, Matthew shows a flair for parenting. In Chapter 10, for instance, Anne agrees to apologize to Mrs. Rachel not because it is the right thing to do or because Marilla threatens her but because she wants to oblige Matthew.

Anne struggles to do the right thing, but Avonlea’s code of manners is unfamiliar to her, and she acts like a well-meaning tourist in a foreign country, violating the standards of propriety by accident. Although anxious to do what people consider right, Anne acts according to her own moral code. She feels that because Mrs. Rachel insults her, she has a right to show her anger, and because she does not truly believe she should apologize to Mrs. Rachel, she makes the apology a piece of theater. Anne’s moral code contrasts with Marilla’s. Marilla frequently observes something Anne does, like decorating her hat with wildflowers, and deems it ridiculous because it is unconventional. Anne, however, does not understand how she can be considered bad when her behavior makes perfect sense to her and when she is not trying to hurt anyone.