Ann of Green Gables : Chapters 33-34
Chapter 33, pp. 243-251
Diana is helping Anne to dress before her performance at the White Sands Hotel, where the people in charge have asked some local talent to join the professionals in order to raise money for the Charlottetown hospital. Anne has been asked to recite.
Anne’s bedroom has changed significantly since her arrival there four years before. Marilla has allowed little, feminine changes: a matted rug, pale green curtains, apple-blossom wallpaper, a dressing table covered in white muslin, a white bed. As Anne dresses, she professes her attachment to the room that has become her own. Indeed, Anne looks much like her room; Diana, who has good taste, has dressed her in her white organdy dress, with the pearl beads Matthew gave her and a small white rose in her hair. She looks pretty, Diana thinks, but Marilla pronounces her “‘neat and proper’” before the girls are collected by Jane Andrews and her brother, Billy, who has a crush on Anne. The buggy drive to the hotel is very pleasant.
But once Anne reaches the hotel, she becomes intimidated by the richly dressed guests and the other performers, who seem sophisticated and condescending. She overhears one of the performers commenting on the “rustics” in the audience and on stage. One of the performers is a professional elocutionist, a woman whose recitation precedes Anne’s and thoroughly cows her. When Anne takes the spotlight, she freezes with stage fright.
But then Anne notices Gilbert Blythe, with Josie Pye, watching her with a smile she thinks it is a challenge. The wind fills her sails again, and she gives the recitation of her life, bringing the audience to tears with “The Maiden’s Vow.” The audience even asks for an encore. Diana later tells Anne a famous artist was heard complimenting her face and hair.
On the drive home, the girls wistfully talk about the rich people they saw and how they would love to be so wealthy. Anne, however, reminds them that they are rich already, with their educations, their happiness, their imaginations. She says she is more content with her string of pearls from Matthew than she would ever be with diamonds.
As Anne steps into a more adult world, she possesses an inner compass that guides her to what is important: being true to herself. The little girl who once used her charm and flair for drama to achieve her ends did not grow up to be a self-important person longing for worldly possessions. Growing up at Green Gables, amidst beautiful countryside and honest people, has given Anne a perspective that values meaningful experiences and places rather than things.
Chapter 34, pp. 252-258
As Anne packs her new clothes for Queen’s College, many of which are due to Matthew’s insisting she have the best and prettiest things he could get her, Marilla brings an armful of green material to Anne’s room. She intends to have it made into an evening dress so that Anne, like the other girls, can attend parties. When it is done, Anne tries it on, recites some of her “The Maiden’s Vow,” and brings Marilla to tears thinking of how Anne is leaving. Anne professes she will always be “‘your little Anne.’” Matthew, too, is overcome and has to go outside, where he looks at the stars and thinks about how God brought Anne to them because He knew they needed her.
The day Anne leaves, Marilla works relentlessly, then cries violently that night in bed before bringing herself up short with shame.
At Queen’s Anne plunges into new experiences. She and Gilbert both, she discovers, are taking the fast-track, attempting to earn a first-class teaching license within a year rather than two years. In a sea of unfamiliar faces, Anne finds comfort in knowing her rivalry can continue; she also notes that she has never noticed what a fine chin he has.
After her first day, she is terribly homesick. Her room at a boarding house looks out on paved streets and telephone lines, not meadows and orchards. She gives in to crying, but she quickly wipes her tears when Josie Pye visits, looking for something to eat and dispensing her acerbic comments. Anne feels better when Ruby and Jane turn up. They bring news that the college is going to allow competition for the Avery Scholarship, a four-year, all expenses paid scholarship to Redmond College for a student who achieves the highest marks in English.
Anne sets her sights on winning that scholarship so Matthew will be proud of her.
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