Ann of Green Gables : Chapters 37-38
Chapter 37, pp.268-274
Just as Anne comes into the kitchen with an armful of narcissus flowers, Matthew faints. He has just gotten notice that the Abbey Bank has indeed failed. Mrs. Lynde, who came when she saw Matthew’s hired boy going to fetch the doctor, tells Anne she has seen a man in his state before: Matthew is dead.
Matthew is laid out in a coffin in the parlor, and Anne fills it with flowers, and the Barrys and Mrs. Lynde keep vigil all night. Anne goes to bed wondering why she cannot cry, even when she kneels to pray at her window. But in the night she wakes and remembers Matthew’s last words to her about how proud he was of her, and finally she cries. Marilla hears her and comes to her, telling her that they have got one another and she loves Anne as dearly as Matthew did. “‘I want to tell you now when I can. It’s never been easy for me to say things out of my heart, but at times like this it’s easier. I love you as dear as if you were my own flesh and blood and you’ve been my joy and comfort ever since you came to Green Gables.’”
Matthew is buried two days later, and Anne and Marilla fall back into life as before. Anne misses Matthew and feels guilty that she still finds beauty and pleasure in her surroundings—even laughter. Mrs. Allan comforts her by reminding her that Matthew loved for her to laugh. Mrs. Allan does comment, though, that Marilla will be very lonely when Anne goes to Redmond. Anne says nothing about that.
Marilla tells Anne she is to go to town to see the eye specialist the next day. Anne says Diana will come keep her company and for Marilla not to worry: She will not get Diana drunk or bake a liniment cake. They laugh about all of Anne’s missteps over the years, especially regarding her red hair, which Josie Pye claims is even redder now. Marilla asks what Josie is going to do in the fall, and Anne says she is going back to Queen’s, and Ruby and Jane are teaching, as is Gilbert. Marilla remarks how good looking Gilbert has become, and then she reveals how his father was once her beau. Anne is shocked. Marilla tells her that they had an argument for which she refused to forgive him, and eventually he gave up and married another woman; she says she wishes she had forgiven him when she had the opportunity to.
Anne gains insight into Marilla’s character. Marilla was not always a taciturn, unemotional person; she became that way. Once, she fell in love and had a temper and wanted marriage and joy. Anne understands that she has had to live with a bad decision she once made out of pride and emotion, and her story is a cautionary tale for Anne and her relationship with Gilbert.
Chapter 38, pp. 274-282
The next day at noon, Anne finds Marilla slumped dejectedly at the kitchen table. She has learned from the specialist that she is going blind unless she gives up all reading, sewing, and other such work. She bemoans how useless she will feel if she has to give up the tasks she has always done and enjoyed. Anne comforts her as best as she can and then goes to her room to think.
When she finds out a few days later that Mr. Sadler has come to negotiate with Marilla to buy Green Gables, she is distraught. But Marilla now has no money, nor can she work the farm anymore. Anne then announces she will not go to Redmond; instead, she will stay and help Marilla so she can keep Green Gables. She plans to rent the farm to Mr. Barry and teach at the Carmody school. She has it all arranged. Marilla, after some arguing, agrees to Anne’s plan. Mrs. Lynde stops by later to comment that she does not believe in girls getting college degrees anyway. Anne tells her she is going to study on her own, just as she would have in college.
Mrs. Lynde does have some surprising news, however. She tells Anne she has learned that Gilbert Blythe has persuaded the trustees to let her have the Avonlea school and give him the Carmody school. He has sacrificed so Anne will be closer to home.
The next evening, Anne is walking home after visiting Matthew’s grave, when Gilbert appears. Rather than ignore him, Anne stops him and thanks him for his sacrifice for her. Gilbert takes her hand and asks if they are friends now, and Anne admits she forgave him after the sinking boat incident but did not know how to tell him so. Gilbert then walks her home.
When Marilla observes them together, she asks Anne why they are friends now. Anne replies that she has five years of conversations to catch up with him.
In her window that night, Anne muses that her path is different than she once intended, but it is good nevertheless. “‘God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world,’” she says to herself.
The novel ends showing that the romantic little girl who once came to Green Gables has grown into a sensible, thoughtful young woman still capable of dreams but not obsessed with them. The chivalry with which Gilbert finally gets Anne’s attention and friendship suggests that the two may have a future together. Anne has taken to heart Marilla’s own failure at love, and that will not be her failure, too.
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