This week's Anne of Green Gables Read-a-long continues with a fun post by Sarah S. Uthoff, a well-known authority of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Gracious heavenly father,
Let me thank you for leading me into the world of L.M. Montgomery.
I came to Anne and Montgomery relatively late in life. I somehow hadn’t heard of Anne until the Kevin Sullivan movie came out which is very strange because I always read a lot of older books. What drew me in was the PBS Wonderworks ad which said, assuming people in the U.S. hadn’t heard of Anne, that the books were a cross between Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. If you know me, I LOVE Laura Ingalls Wilder and I’m quite fond of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (the bit with her cheesecloth graduation dress, be still my heart) I was working in the library and so I ran right over to the children’s section and got the first Anne book and I fell in love.
In this chapter we get the set up for one of the major themes of the book. Before Anne’s arrival life at Green Gables was very orderly. Things were structured in respectability. You showed your faith in God by attending church. You did things as you were expected to. The primacy of form and repeated cycle was the backbone of Marilla and Matthew’s life. Anne was just the opposite. She was full of fancy and fun and frolic. She might have been forced by circumstances to hard labor, but while they may have had use of her body, her mind and imagination roamed free. By the end of the book Matthew/Marilla and Anne have combined the best of both viewpoints. Matthew and Marilla have much more color, light, happy chatter, and puffed sleeves in their lives. Anne gains some of that stability that comes from following form. Both sides bring out the best in each other.
This second night Marilla is horrified that Anne has never prayed because “Mrs. Thomas told me God made my hair red ON PURPOSE and so I’ve never cared for Him since.” But Anne is not without goodness despite the fact that she never prayed. She is not as Marilla says “a very bad little girl.” She just doesn’t value the form and rigid expectations that characterize a certain class of Victorian behavior.
Marilla thinks about a very rigid form of prayer. You kneel by your bed, you say a specific prayers or you’re in church under the guidance of a minister. One of the most beautiful section in the book is Anne’s counterproposal for a prayer.
“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep woods, and I’d look up into the sky – up – up – up – into the lovely blue sky that looks as if there is no end to its blueness. And then I’d just FEEL a prayer.”
Now then I’m grateful for Green Gables, the White Way of Delight, the Lake of Shinning Waters, my fellow Kindred Spirits to talk Anne with and all the hard work and serious scholarship that has raised Montgomery as a standard from outside the normal path of Academia. That’s all I can think of just now to thank thee for.
Now for the things I want they are so numerous that it would take a great deal of time to list them all so I will only mention the two most important. Please keep on preserving the sites, conferences, and scholarship around L.M. Montgomery and let me make it to the L.M. Montgomery Institute conference someday.
Yours respectably…. I mean Amen,
Anne Shirley…I mean Lady Cordelia Fitzgerald…I mean Sarah S. Uthoff
Sarah S. Uthoff is the creator and force between Trundlebed Tales which focuses on Laura Ingalls Wilder, one-room schools, historic foodways, and other social history. Uthoff is a well-known Wilder authority and presents widely on Wilder and other topics. She is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Find her all around the web under Sarah Uthoff and Trundlebed Tales. https://about.me/sarah_uthoff http://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com