Anne Of Green Gables Summary

Lucy Maud Montgomery

Anne Of Green Gables

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Anne Of Green Gables Summary

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Anne Shirley is a young orphan from Boling broke, Nova Scotia, Canada. Anne is sent to live with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, a brother and sister in their fifties and sixties. Up until this point, Anne has lived in a series of foster homes and orphanages. However, Anne is being sent to the Cuthberts by mistake: their intention was to bring a boy to live with them, to help Matthew on the farm at Green Gables.

But Anne, who is inquisitive, talkative, and happy despite her background, charms Matthew. Anne proves to have a vivid imagination, and her excitement at the prospect of moving to Green Gables is hard to resist. Matthew tells Marilla that he’d like to keep Anne, and Marilla acquiesces after a trial period.

Marilla treats Anne harshly at first, though not cruelly, and she is sympathetic toward Anne’s troubling past and abusive home life. Still, she doesn’t let Anne call her “Aunt Marilla” the way Anne requests, preferring the more distant “Marilla.” Marilla teaches Anne how to pray in what she views as the proper, Christian way, unlike Anne’s more informal, wish-like practice. Though Marilla disapproves of some of Anne’s behaviors, Marilla understands that Anne’s mistakes come from her upbringing, and not maliciousness.

Two weeks after Anne’s adoption, Marilla admits to an older neighbor, Mrs. Rachel Lynde, that she feels affection for Anne. Mrs. Rachel disapproves of Anne’s adoption, though, and comments disparagingly on Anne’s skinny body and bright red hair. Anne is sensitive about her hair color, and lets fly a string of insults toward Mrs. Rachel before storming off. Marilla defends Anne’s behavior.

Marilla insists that Anne apologize to Mrs. Rachel. Anne refuses at first, but eventually is convinced by Matthew. When Anne does go apologize, she does so in an overly-dramatic way fueled by her imagination. Mrs. Rachel accepts the apology, though Marilla realizes that Anne has enjoyed her punishment by making it theatrical. Still, Marilla determines it would be useless to punish Anne for apologizing too well, and lets the issue drop. On the walk home, Anne and Marilla hold hands.

Later, Anne walks herself to church. She wears one of the dresses Marilla has made for her, but Anne finds them too plain, so on the way, she decorates her hat with a handful of flowers. The members of the church find the flowers too showy and ostentatious.

Anne explains to Marilla that she didn’t enjoy the service. She found the whole thing boring, and the preacher’s sermon unimaginative. Marilla agrees with Anne, but keeps it to herself. Later, Mrs. Rachel tells Marilla about the flowers Anne had placed on her hat. Marilla scolds Anne for her behavior. Anne is upset because she doesn’t understand why she’s in trouble, but her mood improves when she learns that they will be visiting the Barrys in the afternoon. Anne hopes to spark a friendship with Diana Barry, the only girl her age who lives nearby.

At the Barry home, Anne and Diana play in the garden and quickly form a friendship. Anne’s fast devotion to her new friend greatly impresses Marilla, whose affection for Anne increases. As the days wear on, Anne and Marilla find common ground, despite Anne’s tendency to get wrapped up in her fantasies and Marilla’s strict adherence to social convention. They begin to appreciate the differences between them.

Anne begins attending school in Avonlea. Despite Anne’s poor education, she’s quickly identified as the smartest girl in the one-room school house. At school, Anne meets and begins a cantankerous friendship with a smart, handsome boy named Gilbert Blythe. Gilbert, much to Anne’s chagrin, nicknames her “Carrots.”

One afternoon, Anne and Diana are left home alone, where they stage a tea party. Anne accidentally serves Diana alcohol, and she later stumbles home drunk. Mrs. Barry is furious, and accuses Anne of having deliberately served her daughter alcohol. Mrs. Barry forbids Diana to visit Anne. Anne despairs, thinking she has lost her friend.

Life at school becomes more and more important to Anne, especially her interactions with Gilbert. His playful teasing is new to Anne. Eventually, Anne learns how to interact with her schoolmates, and comes to enjoy education. Simultaneously, Marilla becomes more adept at parenting.

Eventually, at sixteen, Anne decides to attend Queen’s Academy, to earn a teaching certificate herself. She does exceptionally well, graduating in one year instead of two, and earning a scholarship to continue her studies.

Toward the end of the book, however, tragedy strikes, and Matthew dies of a heart attack upon hearing that Marilla has lost her money in a bank failure. This alters Anne’s plans, and instead of moving farther away, she takes a job close to Green Gables. Gilbert decides to return home, as well, and Anne and Gilbert’s friendship grows even stronger.

Anne has a powerful imagination, and her daydreams often lead her astray. Anne’s rich interior life differentiates her from Marilla, and their differences present the reader with two very different worldviews. As such, the novel presents a conflict between Anne’s more fantastical daily life and that of Marilla, who would rather operate as societal convention dictates. Anne’s imagination also bleeds into her spirituality, which is marked by hope and wishful thinking. Marilla, who practices a strict Christianity, discourages Anne’s form of religion, but eventually Anne successfully folds the two cosmologies into a system she can use.

Anne of Green Gables is the first book in a nine-book series that has enjoyed world renown and multiple film and television adaptations.