This week, in honour of our next installment of our Anne of Green Gables Readalong, "Chapter XXIII: Anne Comes to Grief in An Affair of Honor," I'm going to play a game of Truth or Dare...so here we go.
Chapter XXIII: Anne Comes to Grief in an Affair of Honor
By Melanie J. Fishbane
When I was a younger, my girlfriends and I would have these grand slumber parties. We would eat junk food, watch movies, and confess our deepest truths.
We would also play games.
One of the games we would play was “Truth or Dare.” The object of the game was for one girl to make the other choose between a “Truth” or a “Dare.” Once she chose, she was either forced to confess something terrible—such as who she might have a crush on. Or, do something embarrassing—like calling the person she might have a crush on.
It appears that the “small fry” of Avonlea had a similar way to pass the time. According to our narrator, “daring” had started with the boys, but then the girls took it up and this was followed by “many silly things that were done in Avonlea that summer because the doers thereof were “dared” to do them would fill a book by themselves.”
In the spirit of the game I played when I was probably first reading Anne of Green Gables, let’s take this chapter and see what kind of “truths” and “dares” are to be found.
TRUTH: As our narrator tells us, Anne Shirley was due for a bit of a mishap. It had been more than a month since the liniment cake episode.
DARE: There were many at Diana Barry’s party. First, Carrie Sloane dared Ruby Gillis to climb to a caterpillar invested willow tree. She did. Then, Josie Pye dared Jane Andrews to hop on her left leg around the garden without falling over. She tried and failed.
TRUTH: Josie Pye is, well, terrible. She gloats a little too much over her victory and Anne will not stand for it.
DARE—with a bit of TRUTH: Anne probably should have said nothing—but this is Anne Shirley and she’s not one to stay silent. So she dares Josie Pye to walk the Barry Fence. Unfortunately for Anne, Josie does with an “airy unconcern” and victory was hers.
TRUTH: Anne is annoyed that her dare did not have the desired humbling of Josie Pye. Thus, she suggests that she knows someone who walked a ridgepole of a roof.
DARE: Josie is “defiant.” She doesn’t believe Anne. And she dares our heroine to walk the ridgepole of Barry’s kitchen roof.
TRUTH: As previously stated, Josie Pye is terrible. This is an unfair dare because it is dangerous. While the rules of Truth or Dare dictate that one can be put in precarious situations, there is a code of honor—one that our dear Josie Pye has certainly crossed.
TRUTH—with a bit of a DARE: Anne is not one to shy away from a challenge—nor would her pride allow her to even consider backing down. She walks the ridgepole, falls, and sprains her ankle.
TRUTH: Had she fallen the other way, the book would no longer be called, Anne of Green Gables.
DARE: Josie Pye dared to have visions of “a future branded as the girl who was the cause of Anne Shirley’s early and tragic death.”
TRUTH: This chapter is hilarious. Montgomery’s satire is perfect. Case in point, two lines of dialogue. The first is when Anne falls off the roof and Diana shouts, “Anne, are you killed?” To which Anne says, “No, Diana, I am not killed, but I think I am rendered unconscious.”
The second is at the end of the chapter, after a rather lengthy piece of dialogue from Anne—in the new Sourcebook edition it goes on for over a page—Marilla says, “There’s one thing plain to see, Anne…and that is that your fall off the Barry roof hasn’t injured your tongue at all.”
DEEP TRUTH: When Marilla sees the Barrys and the girls coming over the log bridge and Mr. Barry holding Anne in his arms, she has an epiphany: “But now she knew as she hurried wildly down the slope that Anne was dearer to her than anything on earth.”
DARE—or let them “dare away”: Marilla’s advice to Anne when she asks, “Aren’t you sorry for me, Marilla?”
TELLING TRUTH: The rivalry between Anne and Gilbert is going strong. When Anne realizes she won’t be at school for six or seven weeks, she’s upset because “Gil—everyone will get ahead” of her.
DARE: Dare I say that Montgomery is creating quite a build up for Miss Stacy? We hear about her in the previous chapter, and now we don’t get to meet her for another six weeks! It is excruciating!
TRUTH: The Avonlea community has embraced Anne. The Superintendent, Mrs. Allan, Rachel Lynde, Diana—even Josie Pye out of guilt no doubt—visit her.
TRUTH: She is home.
Melanie J. Fishbane holds an M.F.A. from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and an M.A. from Concordia University and teaches English at Humber College. Her essay, “My Pen Shall Heal, Not Hurt": Writing as Therapy in L.M. Montgomery's Rilla of Ingleside and The Blythes Are Quoted," is included in L.M. Montgomery's Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years 1911-1942. Her YA novel, Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2017. You can follow Melanie on Twitter @MelanieFishbane and like her on Facebook.