Ann of Green Gables : Chapters 9-10
Chapter 9, pp. 61-67
After Anne has been at Green Gables a fortnight, Mrs. Lynde comes to “inspect” her. She has heard lots of rumors and gossip about Anne.
Anne, during her first fortnight, has gotten acquainted with every tree and stream in the area, naming them fanciful names, picking flowers, and jabbering Matthew’s and Marilla’s ear off about her discoveries.
She is in one of her dreamy states when she wanders into the house and is startled to find Mrs. Lynde there. Mrs. Lynde pronounces that Anne is “‘terribly skinny and homely,’” and has hair “‘as red as carrots!’” She calls Anne closer for a better look.
Anne, however, stomps up to her and cries, “‘I hate you!’” and “‘How would you like to have such things said about you?’” She declares she will never forgive Mrs. Lynde for such insults.
A horrified and embarrassed Marilla sends Anne to her room, but she then surprises herself by telling Mrs. Lynde, “‘You shouldn’t have twitted her about her looks, Rachel.’” She explains that Anne has never had a proper bringing up, but Mrs. Lynde was too critical of her. Mrs. Lynde, offended, huffs off.
Marilla then must decide on Anne’s punishment. She acknowledges that Anne’s assessment of Mrs. Lynde had some truth, but she also knows she cannot allow Anne to speak to adults like that and display such temper. One thing Marilla is sure about: she cannot strike a child.
Anne defends her display of anger by telling Marilla that she knows she is homely, but hearing someone actually say it was very hurtful. She asks Marilla to put herself in her shoes, and Marilla remembers overhearing one of her own aunts call her “‘a dark and homely little thing’” when she was a child. She acknowledges that Mrs. Lynde was rude to say what she did, but that Anne must go apologize to her for her temper and beg her forgiveness.
Anne refuses to beg her forgiveness, so Marilla has no choice but to confine her to her room until she decides to go apologize. In the kitchen by herself, however, Marilla cannot help but chuckle a bit when she recalls Mrs. Lynde’s face during Anne’s attack on her.
More of Anne’s personality comes out in this chapter. She demonstrates an affinity with nature and a keen appreciation of beauty, but she also demonstrates a temper and a stubborn streak. Behind her temper, however, is a tendency to honesty. And a belief that she is ugly. Marilla recognizes that Anne sees things as they truly are—she even admires Anne’s ability to speak as she sees—but she also knows that Anne needs to learn to regulate her temper and opinions; Anne needs to learn social graces, beginning with respect for adults.
Chapter 10, pp. 67-74
Because Anne still refuses to apologize to Mrs. Lynde the next morning, she is absent from breakfast, and Marilla must tell Matthew what happened. He says that Mrs. Lynde deserved Anne’s diatribe against her and that he hopes Marilla will not punish Anne too hard—or starve her into submission. Marilla replies that of course she would not starve a child into good behavior; she takes trays of food to Anne throughout the day.
When supper passes and Anne still has not agreed to apologize, Matthew waits until Marilla is out of the house and sneaks upstairs, where he has hardly ever been (he sleeps down by the kitchen). He implores Anne to make her apology soon. Anne admits she is ashamed of her outburst to Mrs. Lynde, but she is determined to hold out forever rather than apologize. “But still,” she tells Matthew, “I’d do anything for you—if you really want me to—” and Matthew tells her, “Well now, of course I do. It’s terrible lonesome downstairs without you.” He adds that Anne should not tell Marilla that he was the one to convince Anne to apologize. Anne swears that wild horses could not draw that information from her.
As Marilla accompanies Anne down the road to Mrs. Lynde’s house after the evening milking, she observes that Anne goes from looking dejected to looking uplifted. Marilla cannot “rid herself of the notion that something in her scheme of punishment was going askew. Anne had no business to look so rapt and radiant.”
Once in Mrs. Lynde’s kitchen, Anne begins her apology. On her knees, her hands held up beseechingly, Anne attests to being a bad girl with an awful temper. She tells Mrs. Lynde that what she said about her was true, and she asks for forgiveness. Mrs. Lynde is satisfied with Anne’s dramatic apology, but Marilla sees something else in it: a love of drama. She knows Anne is enjoying the act of apologizing as ardently as possible. Mrs. Lynde, softened by Anne’s words, declares that she once knew someone whose red hair darkened into auburn, and she bets Anne’s will do the same. This pronouncement pleases Anne greatly; in fact, she calls Mrs. Lynde a “benefactor” now.
Anne is allowed to go out and play in Mrs. Lynde’s invitingly beautiful apple orchard, where there appears to be much “‘scope for the imagination.’” Once she is gone, Mrs. Lynde tells Marilla that she likes Anne very much.
On the walk back to Green Gables, Marilla struggles over whether to discipline Anne for “apologizing so well,” but she decides only to warn Anne against displaying her temper and having to make further apologies of that fashion. Anne admits that apologizing gave her a “‘lovely, comfortable feeling,’” but in the same breath she remarks that the stars are bright and asks Marilla which star she would live in if she could live in one. Marilla, exasperated by Anne’s quixotic mind, tells her to be quiet.
Suddenly, Anne grasps Marilla’s hand. “‘It’s lovely to be going home and know it’s home,’” she says. Marilla feels a surge of maternal love, then shifts “her sensations to their normal calm by inculcating a moral.” She tells Anne that if she is always good, her prayers will always be easy to say.
Anne dreamily replies that she cannot talk anymore just now; she is imagining flying over the beautiful countryside that is now her home. Marilla mutters a sigh of relief that Anne is not talking for a change.
Anne’s flair for drama penetrates through even Mrs. Lynde’s high-mindedness. Although Anne’s speech is artfully designed to appeal to Mrs. Lynde, the apology does not concede that Mrs. Lynde was right in so unfeelingly accessing Anne’s appearance. Anne has made a point that Marilla cannot argue with: even children deserve respect.
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