Friday, July 22, 2011

Chapter 11: I feel you, Anne -- I want pretty dresses too!

No, clothes aren't the exclusive focus of this chapter. But just as much as Sunday School (which actually appears in the chapter title), this chapter deals with the difference between how Anne and Marilla deal with appearance.

Marilla has made Anne some new dresses to replace her asylum clothes:
"One was of snuffy colored gingham which Marilla had been tempted to buy from a peddler the preceding summer because it looked so serviceable; one was of black-and-white checkered sateen which she had picked up at a bargain counter in the winter; and one was a stiff print of an ugly blue shade which she had purchased that week at a Carmody store.... She had made them up herself, and they were all made alike—plain skirts fulled tightly to plain waists, with sleeves as plain as waist and skirt and tight as sleeves could be."
Anne, though intent on being grateful, can't help but long for puffed sleeves. Which Marilla thinks are both wasteful and ridiculous.
"But I'd rather look ridiculous when everybody else does than plain and sensible all by myself," persisted Anne mournfully.
But just a little further along in the chapter, we get to see that Anne doesn't care all that much about general standards of fashion, as long as her own standards are met -- and a wreath of flowers, picked on the way to church, certainly satisfies the second condition.
"Whatever other people might have thought of the result it satisfied Anne, and she tripped gaily down the road, holding her ruddy head with its decoration of pink and yellow very proudly."
Anne gets through her first experience in the Avonlea church without mishap, though she has plenty to criticize when she gets home to Marilla. And once again Marilla's facing a conflict between the sense that she should be instilling absolute respect for authority in her new charge, and the fact that Anne's critique is pretty on-target.
"Marilla felt helplessly that all this should be sternly reproved, but she was hampered by the undeniable fact that some of the things Anne had said, especially about the minister's sermons and Mr. Bell's prayers, were what she herself had really thought deep down in her heart for years, but had never given expression to. It almost seemed to her that those secret, unuttered, critical thoughts had suddenly taken visible and accusing shape and form in the person of this outspoken morsel of neglected humanity."

No comments: