Caroline Jones is back to the Anne of Green Gables Read-a-long to give her impressions on "Chapter XIV: Anne's Confession."
Chapter XIV: Anne's Confession
By, Caroline Jones
Jeanette Boyd’s lovely reflections on Marilla’s developing sense of romance in reference to her amethyst brooch (Chapter XIII) highlights Montgomery’s foreshadowing of the incident prompting Anne’s titular confession. However, that sense of romance is impeded by Marilla’s regression into absolutism, which once again gets in the way of the truth—either the brooch will still be on her bureau, or Anne is lying, she believes, with no room for other possibilities. In her early life, Anne learned not to seek justice in a world that overlooks poor little orphan girls, but she has also learned to expect more from the Cuthberts. When her actual confession, that she entered Marilla’s room, pinned on the brooch, then returned it to the bureau, is rejected, Anne clings to the truth until she realizes that the truth is not enough for Marilla. She then tries to determine what is required, and manufactures something plausible (and “interesting”), opting to take punishment for something she did not do rather than miss the much-anticipated picnic.
When Anne does “confess,” Montgomery gives us clues as to the nature of that confession, remarking that Anne speaks “as if repeating a lesson she had learned.” This should cue Marilla, as it does the reader, that this confession comes not from the heart, as did her apology to Mrs. Lynde, but from a desire to meet Marilla’s expectations so that Anne can go to the Sunday School picnic. Additionally, two of Anne’s own sentences also demonstrate the confession’s artifice: the last sentence, “And that’s the best I can do at confessing, Marilla” and the desperate declaration that she must go to the picnic: “That was why I confessed.”
When Marilla finds the brooch clinging to her shawl later that day, she is baffled, but soon realizes that “I drove [her] to it.” Marilla’s immediate recognition of her own culpability and her willingness to ask Anne’s forgiveness demonstrates her own emotional development; her confession to Matthew later, with a “candid” acceptance of responsibility and a willingness to laugh about the whole incident further demonstrates the development of that hint of a sense of humour described in the first chapter. Marilla’s growth is coming along nicely, despite the occasional setback.
But what would Marilla’s ability to take responsibility and ask forgiveness be without Anne’s generous ability to forgive? Her unconditional love and forgiveness offer Marilla second and third chances. While we often see this novel as the story of a child finding a home (which it certainly is), Montgomery has undoubtedly created a story of a community and a child making one another better and stronger. Anne’s open, loving, forgiving spirit allows the rigid, overly moral, repressive people of Avonlea to explore ways of being that transcend their own narrow experience. And that message of hope sustains us even into the twenty-first century.