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The omniscient narrator opens the chapter by musing on the wonder of human invention, and suggests that one of the most remarkable ones of the previous (the 19th) century was the idea that "thoughts...are as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison." She then notes the way in which both Colin and Mary have changed their negative thoughts to positive ones, and have flourished as a result. The narrator also says that only the courageous are able to do this; Master Craven, by contrast, has not been courageous&mdashhis mind is still full of his grief. The narrator finds Master Craven in the Austrian Tyrol, having "forgotten and deserted his home and his duties." At first, the natural landscape does nothing to soothe his anguish. Then his eye comes to rest on a cluster of flowers&mdashforget-me-nots&mdashand he finds himself marveling at their beauty. Looking at them, he feels "almost alive." Back at Misselthwaite, the garden too is coming alive&mdashand Master Craven is coming alive with it. His body and soul begin to become still stronger during his time in Italy, at Lake Como, where he goes after his departure from Austria. One night, he dreams of the Mistress Craven; she is calling his name and asking him to come find her in their garden. The next morning, he receives a letter from Susan Sowerby, advising him to come back to Misselthwaite at once: he must see Colin, she says, as his late wife would want him to. She does not explain why. Archibald immediately makes preparations to return home by rail. On the journey to England, Master Craven muses about his son and his history: he thinks of the way he has neglected Colin, for he has never felt at all like the father of such an hysteric. He thinks of the way Colin's eyes&mdashso like and yet so horribly unlike his mother's&mdashfill him with aversion. And yet, he remains serene, and resolves to at least try to rectify his relationship with his son upon his return. Master Craven is much pleased by his return to moor, and stops at Susan Sowerby's house to make a tiny gift to her children. At the manor, he immediately sets off for the garden to look for his son, as Mrs. Medlock says that he will find Colin there. He is astonished to hear sounds of children running and laughing, coming from beyond the secret garden's wall. Suddenly, the door is flung open, and Colin tumbles out into his father's arms. Master Craven, ecstatic to find him healthy, embraces Colin, and asks his son to show him around the secret garden. Colin does so, and tells him the entire story of its discovery and its reawakening. The three of them&mdashColin, Mary, and Master Craven&mdashwalk back to the manor house. Each and every person is utterly astounded by Archibald's happiness and Colin's vigor, now that it is no longer a secret.
This chapter marks the lengthiest of the narrator's intervention into the text. It serves a primarily didactic (instructive or pedagogical) function, in that it provides a kind of abstract of Colin and Mary's transformations, and of the book's major theme: the idea, taken from Christian Science, that thoughts alone are enough to determine one's health and well-being. The 19th century person who made this "discovery" is Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. Baker Eddy's magnum opus, Science and Health, is to Christian Scientists what the Bible is to conventional Christians, or what Dianetics is to Scientologists. This chapter also marks the second time that the narrator does not present events in a straightforward chronological fashion: the other instance is at the beginning of the novel, in which she retrospectively looks at Mary's time in India from the point of view of Misselthwaite. The narrator traces Archibald Craven's travels, which occur at the same time as the events that make up the bulk of the novel. His travels demonstrate his extreme estrangement from that process of rebirth, even as it affects him: he begins to feel alive as the garden is brought back to life. The reader thereby realizes that the garden is as closely connected to his spirit as it is to his late wife's, although for a different reason. For him, its resurrection is his because it is, in some sense, what remains of his wife on earth. Susan Sowerby's summoning of Master Craven back to the manor is significant for several reasons. On the one hand, it indicates how thoroughly she has adopted Colin's cause; on the other, it puts her in the position of speaking for Mistress Craven, with whom she seems to have unusual sympathy. In the previous chapter she bends to kiss the garden's flowers, just as Mistress Craven used to. Furthermore, it indicates that she, like her son, is above the absurd indignities of class disparity: she writes to Master Craven despite the fact that he is "above her station" because she is, in reality, finer than he is&mdashand they both are aware of it. Archibald's dream of his wife brings him back to the garden. The dream is also, implicitly, a dream of his son: he ardently embraces Colin, in large part, because his eyes are now so like his mother's. This reader could not help but be made uncomfortable by how easily Master Craven was forgiven for his gross neglect of his son; though this is, of course, a dilemma each reader must resolve for himself. At novel's end, all of the secrets are out: that of the garden, of Mary's improvement, and of Colin's. Since secrets are the novel's animating force, it is entirely in keeping with the logic of the narrative that the story should end here.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Secret Garden!