Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chapter 9: The famous temper

Anne's settling in at Green Gables, but it's a while before she meets her neighbor. (As opposed to the rest of us, who met Rachel Lynde in the first chapter.) But as Montgomery points out:
"Mrs. Rachel, to do her justice, was not to blame for this."
Mrs. Rachel, to do her justice, doesn't waste any time telling Anne what her faults are -- with special emphasis on Anne's appearance. Miss Shirley does not restrain herself.
"I hate you," she cried in a choked voice, stamping her foot on the floor. "I hate you—I hate you—I hate you—" a louder stamp with each assertion of hatred. "How dare you call me skinny and ugly? How dare you say I'm freckled and redheaded? You are a rude, impolite, unfeeling woman!"
Which, while perhaps not entirely true, is certainly justified.
"Oh, but there's such a difference between saying a thing yourself and hearing other people say it," wailed Anne.
Marilla, of course, is rather put out at this scene -- and by the fact that she gets where Anne's coming from, so it's difficult for her to balance ideals of Calvinist upbringing with human feelings.
"An old remembrance suddenly rose up before Marilla. She had been a very small child when she had heard one aunt say of her to another, 'What a pity she is such a dark, homely little thing.' Marilla was every day of fifty before the sting had gone out of that memory."

Anne prepares herself for some horrible punishment, showing off that imagination we've already become acquainted with, and giving Marilla the opportunity to deliver an excellent deadpan:
"We're not in the habit of shutting people up in dark damp dungeons," said Marilla drily, "especially as they're rather scarce in Avonlea."
The upshot is this: Anne is under orders to apologize to Mrs. Rachel. Anne is understandably reluctant to do so. Which sets us up for Chapter 10, but not without a closing line that makes Marilla that much more lovable:
"She was as angry with herself as with Anne, because, whenever she recalled Mrs. Rachel's dumbfounded countenance her lips twitched with amusement and she felt a most reprehensible desire to laugh."


Anonymous said...

I love these lines you've pointed out, because they do make Marilla more lovable - and by extension, they let me know that Anne's going to be OK after all. (I love her "apology" in the next chapter - such a hoot!)

Sarah Rettger said...

This is one of the many reasons Colleen Dewhurst *is* Marilla as far as I'm concerned. She's got that perfect balance of dry humor and strictness.