Ann of Green Gables : Chapters 11-12
Chapter 11, pp 74-79
Marilla has made Anne three new dresses, but she is put out when Anne regards them with less than enthusiasm. She had hoped for a dress with puffed sleeves, which are so fashionable. Marilla calls puffed sleeves a ridiculous fashion and a waste of material, to which Anne replies, “‘But I’d rather look ridiculous when everybody else does than plain and sensible all by myself.’” She says that she actually prayed for one, but God did not seem to waste his time on supplying pretty dresses for little orphan children.
On the day that Anne is to attend her first Sunday School, Marilla has a headache and cannot accompany her. Marilla sends her to walk there with Mrs. Lynde, and on the way to her house Anne makes a wreath of flowers for her hat. Anne arrives at the church on her own, having missed Mrs. Lynde, and there she is shunned by the other little girls, who whisper about her. And even though Anne answers every question the Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Rogerson, puts to her, she is unhappy in the class because she is the only girl without puffed sleeves.
She relays her experience to Marilla afterwards, telling how at the opening assembly in the church, she sat by a window and daydreamed during the “‘awfully long prayer’” by Mr. Bell. Then, in the class she felt chagrined to be the only girl without puffed sleeves. Marilla hopes she did not express this sentiment aloud. She did like the assignment Mrs. Rogerson gave her to memorize for next class because it has some good lines like poetry. Anne complains about the sermon afterward; she feels that Mr. Bell does not have any imagination and is therefore very dull. Secretly, Marilla agrees with Anne about Mr. Bell; she has felt for years that his sermons are boring.
Anne’s deep desire to be beautiful and fashionable comes out in her obsession with puffed sleeves. But her act of adorning herself with flowers and not realizing that she is unfashionable—even ridiculous—reveals that Anne possesses an inner beauty, an inner innocence, that exists outside of fashion and opinion. Anne loves beauty for beauty’s sake. Her inner compass points her toward beauty, even in religious teachings.
Chapter 12, pp. 79-85
After a visit to Mrs. Lynde, Marilla returns aggravated to have learned from her that Anne made a spectacle of herself by wearing the wreath of flowers in her hat at the Sunday School. She feels that Anne’s appearance reflects on her, too. People must have thought she allowed Anne to decorate her hat in such a ridiculous way.
Anne is mortified to have unintentionally embarrassed Marilla. She cries and tells Marilla that she ought to send her back to the asylum. “‘That would be terrible; I don’t think I could endure it; . . . But that would be better than being a trial to you,’” she sobs.
To comfort Anne, Marilla tells her that Diana Barry has come home to Orchard Slope and Anne can accompany Marilla there to meet her. Anne exchanges her tears for fear. She is afraid Diana will not like her, but Marilla says it is Diana’s strict mother whom she should worry about. She is particular about Diana’s friends, so Anne should not make any fanciful speeches to put her off.
Upon meeting Mrs. Barry and being asked how she is, Anne answers, “‘I am well in body although considerably rumpled in spirit, thank you, ma’am.’” Mrs. Barry introduces her to Diana, a pretty, dark-haired girl,and sends the girls outside to get acquainted.
In the Barry’s garden, Anne is stirred by the beauty of the flowers in bloom and the humming bees. She asks Diana if she will become her bosom friend. Diana laughs and says she will. Anne then asks her to swear she will remain her friend forever. Diana demurs because she has been taught not to swear, and Anne explains that she does not mean swearing as in cursing, but swearing as in making a solemn promise. Diana, clear on the definition of swearing, agrees to swear an oath. Anne goes first, declaring, “‘I solemnly swear to be faithful to my bosom friend, Diana Barry, as long as the sun and moon shall endure.’” Diana repeats the oath and the friendship is sealed.
On the walk home, Anne raves about Diana and how happy she is to have a bosom friend. Already she and Diana have plans for making a playhouse in the woods, sharing books, naming things. Marilla drily hopes that Anne will not “‘talk Diana to death.’”
At home, Matthew, who has been to Carmody on business, offers Anne a bag of chocolates he picked up. Marilla sniffs at the indulgence, but Anne is thrilled and plans to share them with Diana, for Diana had given her a picture of a lady in a blue dress, but Anne had had nothing to give her in return. Now she does.
Marilla remarks to Matthew that Anne is not a miserly child, which is a relief. She muses that Anne has been with them only three weeks and it seems like she has always been there. She is glad they decided to adopt her, but she warns Matthew not to rub it in that he was right about Anne from the first moment he saw her.
Anne’s concept of a “bosom friend” again shows her flair for drama as she insists the girls swear an oath, but it also shows that, for Anne, friendship is something from the heart. She romanticizes her relationship with Diana, but she also sincerely wants to be a friend. Anne does not do anything merely for show; she does things from her heart.
Diana, although beautiful, does not possess the mental quickness of Anne, but her good nature bodes well for their friendship.
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