Monday, June 13, 2011

Chapter 3: Meet Cordelia

Apologies for the Train earworm.

Anne has now arrived at Green Gables for the first time -- much to the surprise of Marilla, who was still under the impression that Matthew was bringing home a boy.

But that doesn't stop her from being amused -- slightly, involuntarily, unaccustomedly -- when Anne describes the situation as TRAGICAL:
"Something like a reluctant smile, rather rusty from long disuse, mellowed Marilla's grim expression."
It's resolved that, at least for the moment, Anne will stay. After all, Marilla's not heartless, and she knows she's at least temporarily responsible for a little girl, and she can't send her off like a tramp. Sleeping arrangements will be an issue, but we'll get to those shortly.

First, the name question.

What 11-year-old hasn't tried changing his or her name, especially at a moment of epochal change? Like Anne, I went for the slightly exotic and romantic-sounding, but my requests to be addressed as Zarah or Kloe (long before the Kardashians arrived on the scene, I might add) met with about as much success as Anne's "Will you please call me Cordelia?"

Frustrated on that score, our girl takes a tack that this Sarah-with-an-H totally understands. She is Anne-with-an-E:
"Oh, it makes SUCH a difference. It LOOKS so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced can't you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out?"
Dude, it's true.

Once the introductions reach a satisfactory conclusion, it's time to find somewhere for Anne to spend the night. Girls require a bit more attention than the expected boy, but Marilla's only willing to go so far:
"But the spare room was out of the question for such a stray waif"
The Annotated Anne points out that the spare room was a pretty big deal, something we'll explore more fully in a future chapter. So instead, Anne ends up in the east gable cell room.
"The whitewashed walls were so painfully bare and staring that she thought they must ache over their own bareness. The floor was bare, too, except for a round braided mat in the middle such as Anne had never seen before. In one corner was the bed, a high, old-fashioned one, with four dark, low-turned posts. In the other corner was the aforesaid three-corner table adorned with a fat, red velvet pin-cushion hard enough to turn the point of the most adventurous pin."
Sounds homey, no?

Before the chapter ends, we're treated to one more glimpse into Marilla's mind, before she and Matthew start arguing (thought neither of them would think of it as such) about what to do with Anne:
"Matthew was smoking—a sure sign of perturbation of mind. He seldom smoked, for Marilla set her face against it as a filthy habit; but at certain times and seasons he felt driven to it and them Marilla winked at the practice, realizing that a mere man must have some vent for his emotions."
Matthew's upholding Avonlea's ideals of masculinity here, showing (presumably) strong emotions in a socially-approved way. Women, of course, are assumed to be more temperamental and demonstrative, but it's hard to imagine Chapter-Three-Marilla indulging in any of that.

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