Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chapter 31: In Which We Cite Longfellow

In the chapter title, at least. Per the ever-amazing Annotated Anne, "where the brook and river meet" is a line from his poem "Maidenhood."

The Queens exam is still hanging over Anne, but she's trying not to let it get to her.

First we have a foray into the question of appropriate professions for women:
"Why can't women be ministers, Marilla? I asked Mrs. Lynde that and she was shocked and said it would be a scandalous thing. She said there might be female ministers in the States and she believed there was, but thank goodness we hadn't got to that stage in Canada yet and she hoped we never would. But I don't see why. I think women would make splendid ministers."
Which gives me an opportunity to go all history-nerd on you and make sure you know who Antoinette Brown was. And check out the family this woman married into - one of her sisters-in-law was Elizabeth Blackwell, the first professional female doctor in the U.S. (and another sister-in-law, Emily Blackwell, also became a doctor), and another was Lucy Stone, famous for not changing her last name when she married. This is why I want to write about the Blackwell family!

Speaking of people who went their own way, we get a quick look at why Miss Stacy was such a great teacher:
"Much of all this was due to Miss Stacy's tactful, careful, broadminded guidance. She led her class to think and explore and discover for themselves and encouraged straying from the old beaten paths to a degree that quite shocked Mrs. Lynde and the school trustees, who viewed all innovations on established methods rather dubiously."
The other thing we get in this chapter, which covers the better part of a year in not a whole lot of words, is a glimpse of Marilla finally giving in to her human side.
"And that night, when Anne had gone to prayer meeting with Diana, Marilla sat alone in the wintry twilight and indulged in the weakness of a cry."
It's not much. She still thinks of it as a weakness, an indulgence, and I can't imagine her actually crying in front of Anne at this point -- but can you imagine the Marilla of Chapter 1 even considering the possibility that she might allow a tear to escape?

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