Ann of Green Gables : Chapters 29-30
Chapter 29, pp. 210-218
Anne and Diana receive an invitation from Miss Barry to come visit her in Charlottetown and attend the Exhibition. Marilla, to Anne’s surprise, gives her permission to go. She has been making the growing Anne some new clothes, clothes that are beautiful and fashionable. She says she does not want Anne going to Mrs. Lynde to make all her clothes after she made Anne’s present from Matthew. Anne is thrilled that she gets to wear her new blue dress and a coat made by a dressmaker in Carmody. She even has a smart new hat to go with them.
Mrs. Barry drives Diana and Anne the thirty miles to Charlottetown, and the girls reach Miss Barry’s mansion around noon. Anne and Diana are in awe of the expensive, luxurious furnishings in the house, but Anne feels that the house leaves no scope for the imagination because it is so well decorated.
The Exhibition is very interesting to the girls, who marvel at such things as a hot air balloon, a fortune teller, and horse races. Lots of Avonlea people take prizes for their entries in the competitions. At night, the girls sleep in the spare room, but Anne feels it is not the treat she once imagined it might be, long ago when they surprised Miss Barry in Diana’s spare bedroom. “‘That’s the worst of growing up, and I’m beginning to realize it,’” Anne tells Marilla later. “‘The things you wanted so much when you were a child don’t seem half so wonderful to you when you get them.’”
On another day, Miss Barry takes the girls on a drive in the park and to a music concert, where Anne hears a performance that brings her to tears. Afterwards, they have ice cream at night, and Diana professes that she was “born for city life,” while Anne, as she tells Marilla later, prefers country life for its quiet and natural beauty.
Once back home, Anne tells Marilla with great sincerity that she is glad to be home, and Marilla confesses her own joy at her return. “‘I’m glad you’ve got back, I must say. It’s been fearful lonesome here without you.’”
Anne’s time in the city, and in the luxury of Miss Barry’s house, might once have greatly appealed to Anne, but Anne now looks at her life through more mature eyes. The Anne who once longed for clothes and beautiful furnishings for her room knows that, while it is nice to have, such things will not make a person truly happy. Now, Anne sees the value of a plain, simple life with people who love her. She has been grounded by that love. Matthew and Marilla, in turn, have been lifted by Anne’s vivacity.
Chapter 30, pp. 218-229
One evening in November, Marilla tries to tell Anne about a visit from Miss Stacy earlier that afternoon. Before she can get in a word, Anne chatters about how her friends have changed. Ruby is mad for boys, and Diana refuses to imagine things anymore; Anne and Diana are aware they should be cultivating more grown-up pursuits that will shape the rest of their lives.
Anne thinks she knows why Miss Stacy came to complain that Anne had to be reprimanded in school for reading Ben Hur while supposed to be studying history. When Marilla finally gets a word into the conversation, she informs Anne that Miss Stacy is forming a study group to prepare students to take the entrance exam to Queen’s College, and she wants Anne to be one of those students. Marilla, who feels women should be able to earn their own living, has given her permission, and Anne is thrilled that Matthew and Marilla will go to the expense of sending her to college to become a teacher.
Anne therefore becomes one of the students chosen to study for the Queen’s exam, along with Gilbert Blythe. Diana is not given permission by her parents, who have no intention of sending her to college. Anne misses her terribly, but she knows Diana aspires to be married, as do other girls.
A fierce rivalry between Anne and Gilbert ensues, with both ignoring the other’s presence. Anne feels sorry, although she would never admit it, that the two cannot be friends because she snubbed Gilbert when he rescued her. If she could do that over, she would answer him differently. She hides her change of heart so well that Gilbert has no idea she feels the way she now does.
By the end of the school year, Anne is worn out with studying so hard, and with delight she packs away her books and anticipates a summer of nothing but fun, for she declares it is her last summer as a little girl.
One evening, Mrs. Lynde comes to Green Gables to find out why Marilla missed the Aid Society meeting, and Marilla informs her that Matthew’s heart is acting up and she stayed home with him. He is getting too old to work the farm. As the two women have tea, Mrs. Lynde admits that she was once wrong in her opinion of the Cuthberts taking in Anne; Anne, she says, has turned out well thanks to them. She is not beautiful like some girls, but she manages to outshine other girls nevertheless.
Along with Anne’s growing up comes the inevitable aging of those around her, too. Mrs. Lynde is growing older, Marilla is suffering more headaches, and Matthew’s heart is giving out. Their increasing age introduces a note of sadness and coming closure to Anne’s childhood. She may not know it yet, but Anne will have to lose the very people who mean so much to her. Others, not just Anne, are changing.
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