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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Anne of Green Gables!