We're back with another reflection on Anne of Green Gables. This week, Adele McMillan, muses on "Chapter XXV: Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves."
Chapter XXV: Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves
By, Adele McMillan
Once again, in this chapter, we see the Matthew’s pure love for his girl and ‘kindred spirit.’
As Rachel Lynde muses, “That man is waking up after being asleep for over sixty years.” It is he who notices that Anne is not dressed like the other girls and believes she deserves at least one pretty dress to wear.
To get his way without vexing Marilla and avoid being seen as interfering in the bringing up of Anne, Matthew decides to give it as a Christmas gift. This is a vital part of just how well Matthew knows his sister, and how to use that knowledge to impact Anne’s life.
During his trip to Carmody, Matthew has one of the most entertaining scenes in the book that does not directly involve Anne. His comfort zone is already pushed to its maximum with the task ahead and what happens is nothing short of a nightmare.
When expecting to be faced with Samuel Lawson’s male store clerks, instead a terrified and bumbling Matthew has to contend with a strange female shop assistant and orders garden rakes, hayseed, and 20 pounds of brown sugar. The clerk has heard of his odd ways, but is ultimately bemused by his crazy requests for things the store does not stock in December. Who knows what she was thinking after he left Lawson’s store. You can almost imagine her conversations with family members and the local gossips after this rather odd encounter.
Poor Matthew, I can empathise with him. I know how hard it can be to reach out of your comfort zone. That moment can change rapidly when you are in over your head and it often results in an extreme reaction. The people around you will never quite understand why you acted the way you did.
Matthew even leaves without the very thing he had his heart set on purchasing. Still, he will not rest and decides to enlist the help of the only woman he can speak to outside of Marilla and Anne— the irrepressible Rachel Lynde.
Rachel’s surprise at this request is hidden well, as she willingly takes the reins from Matthew and, I believe, gives the quiet, gentle man a great deal of respect in doing so. She seems to be amazed that after all this, he is the one to see that Anne has this one beautiful and thoughtful thing just for her, and when she needs it most.
Rachel’s own views are similar to Matthew’s, and she has also kept her feelings to herself regarding Marilla’s shrewd fashion design because she felt that her views would not be welcomed by her stubborn friend who doesn’t believe in frills and fancies.
But once the dress is made and gifted to Anne on Christmas morning, her delighted tears at its exquisiteness only further proves just how much Matthew adores her and wants to give her everything he can. Anne can see how much he understands who she really is and his unconditional support of her in this one heartfelt gift.
L.M. Montgomery’s descriptiveness is also showcased in this chapter with vibrant descriptions of feelings, places, and moments, all wrapped in an imaginative flair that only she possesses.
At once we are taken to that place, that time, as if we were present at the concert cheering the bedecked Anne, sharing in the Christmas morning spent peeping out of a frosted gable window.
But most of all, this chapter is lovingly gift-wrapped for us all with a contented sigh of satisfaction (not unlike Matthew’s) knowing at some point in our lives, the perfect gift may not be the most expensive, but the one filled with love, thoughtfulness, joy--and just a touch of a kindred spirits soul.
Adele McMillan is 33, has a vivid imagination, a love of books, writing, music and her husband Shane. She lives in Australia in the pretty coastal town of Ocean Grove with rolling waves and a horizon that beckons with all that is beyond it. She recently visited PEI to enjoy the beauty that Lucy Maud held so dear and saw for herself that it’s the perfect place for Anne’s escapades. "Matthew insists on Puffed Sleeves" is her favourite chapter and she is honoured to share her thoughts with you and hopes you enjoy her synopsis.