Ann of Green Gables : Chapters 7-8
Chapter 7, pp. 49-52
That evening, when Marilla tells Anne to say her bedtime prayers, she is horrified when Anne says she never says prayers. Anne proves that she knows something about God, for she knows the whole catechism from Sunday School, and she feels it sounds a bit like poetry. After Marilla rebukes Anne for this irreverence, Anne reveals that Mrs. Thomas once told her God made her hair red on purpose; after that revelation, Anne “‘never cared about Him since.’”
Marilla makes it clear that Anne is to say prayers at Green Gables, and Anne indicates she is perfectly willing to do so, if Marilla will show her how and give her an example. After telling Anne to kneel, Marilla hesitates. The classic child’s prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep” is too simple, and is “entirely unsuited to this freckled witch of a girl who . . . had never had [God’s love] translated to her through the medium of human love.” She leaves Anne to make her own prayer.
Anne’s prayer, more like a letter, thanks God for her beautiful surroundings and implores Him to let her stay at Green Gables.
In the kitchen later, Marilla declares to Matthew that Anne must be adopted by them and cured of her heathen attitudes. She will send her to Sunday School as soon as she can make her some clothes.
This chapter introduces another reason that Marilla commits to bring up Anne. Marilla, a strong Christian, is horrified at Anne’s lack of religious knowledge. Although Anne applies her imagination and love of words to what religion she has garnered, Marilla knows that she must also be taught the discipline and structure of prayer in order to truly understand God.
Chapter 8, pp. 53-60
The next day, Marilla supervises Anne through a series of chores before finally telling her she will stay at Green Gables. Anne cries with joy at the news, which causes Marilla to chide her for laughing and crying “‘far too easily.’” She instructs Anne to call her just plain Marilla, because she is not Anne’s “Aunt Marilla” and does not “‘believe in calling people names that don’t belong to them.’” Anne says she has no imagination, but Marilla says God did not intend people to distort reality through imagination. She tells Anne to get the prayer card from the sitting room, and when Anne begins to chatter, Marilla tells her that from now on she must do what Marilla commands, immediately, instead of standing about talking. When Anne does not return, Marilla finds her staring at a picture of Jesus and imagining she is one of the children in the picture with him. Anne remarks that every picture of Jesus makes him look so sad; she wonders if it made children afraid of him. Marilla accuses her of irreverence, then explains that Anne must return promptly when sent after something. She sets Anne to learn the prayer on the card immediately.
Anne, however, soon begins to muse about having a “‘bosom friend,’” which she explains to a bewildered Marilla is a “‘kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul.’” She has always sought a bosom friend. Marilla tells her Diana Barry of Orchard Slope, nearby, might work. But her mother is very strict.
Anne, delighted that Marilla considers Diana a pretty girl, has high hopes for her as a friend. She reveals that she had an imaginary friend, Katie Maurice, whom she imagined lived in the bookcase at the Thomas house. Then, at Mrs. Hammond’s she imagined a little girl called Violetta. At the asylum, however, she was too unhappy to imagine anyone.
When Anne spots a bee and declares she would be a bee if she were human, Marilla loses patience with her chatter and sends her to her room to learn the prayer. In her room, Anne sets about imagining more furnishing for the plain décor: silk cushions, brocade tapestries, mahogany furniture, and a mirror. She imagines herself in a white lace gown with pearls in her hair, which is dark, not red. A look in the small mirror in the room brings Anne back to earth.
“‘You’re only Anne of Green Gables,’ she said earnestly, ‘and I see you, just as you are looking now, whenever I try to imagine I’m the Lady Cordelia. But it’s a million times nicer to be Anne of Green Gables than Anne of nowhere in particular, isn’t it?’”
Then Anne leans out the window and says hello to all the trees she sees, and she vows not to forget Katie and Violetta, even if Diana Barry proves to be her bosom friend.
Anne’s bringing up at Marilla’s hands begins, with both of them at opposite ends of the behavior spectrum. Anne is talkative and creative and effusive in her emotions; Marilla is taciturn and practical and stingy with her emotions. How they will get along remains to be seen.
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