Marilla Realizes How Much Life Has Changed
The anniversary of Anne’s arrival at Green Gables corresponds with signs of Anne’s development as a young woman and a full member of Avonlea society. Anne digests her old experiences and uses them to improve herself, a process central to a child’s development into adolescence and adulthood. In an instance of Anne’s increasing maturity, she manages for the first time to make a heartfelt, effective apology. In contrast to her overblown apologies to Mrs. Rachel and Marilla in past chapters, Anne’s apology to Aunt Josephine, in Chapter 19, is delicate, sincere, and immediately successful. She has learned to curb her temper and put her eloquence to good use.
Anne applies old lessons to new situations not only when making apologies but also when saving Minnie May. Although Anne disliked caring for Mrs. Hammond’s twins, she is able to use the knowledge she gained in the Hammond household to save Minnie May’s life. Previously, Anne’s unorthodox background and unusual behavior have made her the town laughingstock, but in these chapters respectable people like the doctor compliment her for learning from the unusual experiences of her past.
Anne and Gilbert’s rivalry grows increasingly heated. Anne is “as intense in her hatreds as in her loves,” an intensity apparent in her enduring hatred for Gilbert. She will not even speak Gilbert’s name, as if trying to deny his existence altogether. When Mr. Phillips writes their names on the board in Chapter 17, the image of Anne’s name underneath that of her enemy suggests both a flirtation between the two of them and her failure to best him in school, and Anne cringes at the sight. However, just as Anne’s unorthodox manner of speaking wins her the approval of Aunt Josephine, her unusual talent for holding a grudge works in her favor in some respects. Because she loathes Gilbert and wants to triumph over him, she works harder in school than she otherwise might, even given her natural love of learning.
Anne displays her fanciful and unshakable imagination yet again in pretending with Diana that the woods between their houses are haunted. There is nothing scary about these woods, but Anne simply decides that she wants them to evoke a particular emotional reaction. Because she believes so strongly in this fantasy, she actually alters her perception of reality. Though she herself has created the idea that the woods are scary, she nevertheless comes home nervous with fright. This ability to get lost in fantasy and think creatively about the world differentiates Anne from Marilla, who initially cannot even fathom that Anne could be useful at Green Gables.
Chapter Challenge: 21-24