Ann of Green Gables : Chapters 31-32
Chapter 31, pp. 229-235
Anne and Diana spend the summer mostly outdoors, and by the time the girls must return to school, Anne has lost the pallor that she began the summer with. Marilla, who had been warned by a doctor that Anne needed to get her “spring” back, made sure Anne was not at all confined indoors.
As Anne retrieves her schoolbooks in preparation for the coming year, she muses to Marilla that they are like old friends. On a tangent, she also confides to Marilla that Mrs. Lynde’s preachy way always has made her feel like she should be naughty, just to spite Mrs. Lynde. Marilla confesses that Mrs. Lynde’s know-it-all attitude has made her want to do just the opposite of what Mrs. Lynde says, too. As they laugh over this confession, Anne observes that “‘there are so many things to be thought over and decided when you’re beginning to grow up. It keeps me busy all the time thinking them over and deciding what is right.’” Anne also comments that she is pleased with the dresses Marilla has made to accommodate the two inches she grew over the summer; she particularly likes the flounce because flounces are now “in.”
The winter school days pass quickly, filled with studying but also with fun activities like sleigh rides, debate club, and skating. Marilla is shocked, as spring comes on, to discover that Anne has grown taller than her. When she is alone, she cries about losing the little girl she has come to love; Matthew catches her crying and consoles her, saying that Anne will always come back to visit once she has gone to college.
Marilla has also observed that Anne no longer chatters erratically. Anne confesses that she continues to dream, but she likes to keep those dreams to herself, and she does not feel the need to use huge words anymore. Miss Stacy has taught her that economy and simplicity in writing and speaking are more effective than using lots of big words. Anne also says that the girls have outgrown the story club, too’ Miss Stacy has taught them to write and think more realistically.
Miss Stacy is going to give the students a practice entrance exam soon, and Anne worries she will fail. She will not return to school and try again if she does fail. “‘Oh, I don’t believe I’d have the heart for it.’” Anne shifts her gaze from looking out the window at the spring beauty and back to her books.
Anne, through Miss Stacy’s tutelage, has discovered that less is more when it comes to being heard and taken seriously. Miss Stacy has given Anne a gravity that tethers her to reality without quenching her essential self. From Miss Allan Anne has learned to strive to be good, to put her natural instincts for good towards real goals.
Marilla has at last found the joy of having a girl, of dressing her and wanting her to shine among others. She must acknowledge, however, that she cannot hold Anne forever.
Chapter 32, pp. 235-242
School is out at the end of June, and Anne has passed the practice tests. She and Diana walk home dejectedly, still crying over Miss Stacy’s farewell to the students. Diana is also sad because Anne will not return if she passes the real test, which she is certain Anne will do, and Diana will be at school with no good friend next year. Anne moans that she is terribly worried she will not pass.
A few days later, she arrives to stay with Miss Barry for the week of exams at Queen’s. Each morning, Miss Stacy collects her students and sees them to the college. Anne writes home to Diana about the first day’s exams, English and history, and nervously anticipates the geometry exam and all the others. She reports that the others from Avonlea are just as nervous.
When the exams are done, Anne returns to Green Gables and becomes pale with waiting the three long weeks until the results are announced. She tells Diana she would rather not pass at all than come in below Gilbert.
Diana gets wind of the results early, for her father brings a paper from town home with him, a day before the mail will deliver it. She rushes to tell Anne that not only did she pass, but she and Gilbert tied for first place over two hundred students. Anne is deliriously happy and confesses that once, only once, did she let herself dream of the possibility of coming in first.
Passing the entrance exam is Anne’s first step into the adult world, a world beyond little Avonlea and her childhood. Anne has been prepared well for this world by Miss Stacy and others.
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