May 27, 2021

#08-089: Anne of Green Gables

black-and-white drawing of an old school classroom; a girl stands amongst seated students and seems to be about to hit a boy over the head with something
Anne whacks Gilbert in the classroom

Note: Anne, an orphan girl, is adopted by elderly siblings Marilla and Matthew, and blossoms in her life at Green Gables Farm.

Get Ready: What are the pluses and minuses of adopting a child, or of being an adopted child?

People seem to love books about orphans: Oliver Twist, Harry Potter, even Superman and Batman! One of the more popular early young adult novels about a plucky orphan who overcame trials by sheer gumption was the 1908 Canadian novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Anne Shirley hailed from Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia, a fictional community based on New London, on Canada's Prince Edward Island. After spending her childhood in orphanages and numerous homes, she finally comes to stay with an unmarried brother and sister, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert in the fictional town of Avonlea (based on Cavendish, PEI).

The siblings were disappointed with Anne, as they had intended to adopt a boy to help with work on their farm, Green Gables. Nevertheless, at Matthew's quiet urging, Marilla agrees to give her a try around the house.

Anne is talkative, and highly imaginative, a poor fit for Marilla's stern nature. But over time, Anne's optimism begins to soften the older lady, as Anne herself begins to take on a slightly more responsible nature.

The book examines various aspects of Anne's life: her growing friendship with her neighbor, Diana Barry; her success at the small country school she attends; her ambition to become a writer; and her complex relationship with classmate Gilbert Blythe, a rival in academic competition and a possible love-interest. (In later books, they do, in fact, marry.) This is the first real home Anne has ever known, and it brings out the best in her.

At sixteen, Anne and Gilbert, along with other friends (but not Diane) attend Queen's Academy, where she will earn a teaching license. She finishes the course in one year instead of the usual two, and wins a scholarship to attend college, where she can take her Bachelor of Arts degree.

However, tragedy strikes: a bank failure causes the Cuthberts to lose all of their money. The news is too much for kindly old Matthew, who dies of a heart attack. Anne chooses to go home and help Marilla instead of going to the university. To earn money for the household, she agrees to teach at a school near enough to allow her to come home every weekend, but Gilbert gives up his new position at Avonlea School, which is even closer, so Anne can go home every night.

Anne's story continues over a half-dozen books; she becomes a school principal, and Gilbert becomes a doctor. Once married, they have six children; three further sequels even tell the stories of the Blythe children's lives.


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. gumption
  2. half-dozen
  3. love-interest
  4. optimism
  5. orphan
  6. overcame
  7. plucky
  8. rival
  9. scholarship
  10. stern

  1. a person one competes with
  2. six
  3. a young person whose parents have died
  4. a possible lover
  5. brave; determined
  6. a positive outlook
  7. money for attending school
  8. strict; serious
  9. initiative; resourcefulness
  10. prevailed (over); succeeded in a conflict

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for May 27, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. i; 2. b; 3. d; 4. f; 5. c; 6. j; 7. e; 8. a; 9. g; 10. h