A short paper I wrote on Anne of Green Gables.
I’m not entirely sure of the quality, but you can be the judge.
The changes in Anne illustrated in the chapter “Where the Brook and the River Meet,” makes her a less believable character. Anne has submitted to ethos and has been deprived of her imagination and extraversion. Chapter thirty-one of Anne of Green Gables happens right before Anne goes away to Queens for further education.
First we learn that how deeply Anne values the opinions and influence of the older women around her. She tells Marilla, “I do really want to be good; and when I’m with you or Mrs. Allan or Miss Stacy I want it more than ever and I want to do just what would please you and what you would approve of” (233). She is careful about whose ethos she trusts though, and so she asks about Mrs. Rachel Lynde, whose advice she is dubious about. Marilla confirms her suspicions that perhaps Rachel is not the best source for advice, even if she is well meaning (233-234). Anne’s conversation with Marilla illustrates that as part of her coming of age, Anne is doing as many extraverts do, and looking for trustworthy and reliable people from which to draw information and advice.
This chapter shows how dedicated Anne has become to her studies, but it also shows how she has become less expressive. She says, “It’s nicer to think dear, pretty thoughts and keep them in one’s heart” (236). This might be key to the argument that Anne has become less believable. Only a couple of pages before, Anne takes an important step in developing her extraverted relationships, but here she goes against her own nature by silencing herself. Worse, unlike solidifying sources of ethos, which required “a sudden burst of confidence” (233), here it seems she has “shut-up” by accident. It seems to be something of an underhanded, or perhaps lazy move by the author. Whereas when she was young, even the most stern people unrealistically let her talk on and on, here it seems less like Anne does not want to express herself and more like Montgomery would rather not write extended monologues anymore.
What about this makes older Anne less realistic? Anne had two key elements to her personality: Extraversion, especially when around “kindred spirits,” and imagination. They were also fuelled by a certain wonder, especially early in the narrative, where it may have been a coping mechanism for her loneliness as an orphan. There seems to be an unstated premise in this chapter that, while growing up and educating oneself is important, something is lost in the process. Montgomery decides that what must go for Anne is not something generic and vague like “innocence,” but instead it should be the one thing that makes Anne unique among her peers: her imaginative, stream of consciousness babble. In addition to the point illustrated in the above paragraph, Anne states, “There’s so much to learn and do and think that there isn’t time for big words” (236). There is a neglect in this statement, about what she will do when she is older, and no longer studying.
What is unrealistic about the change in Anne in this chapter is that she loses her one defining feature—and that in order to lose it, the author has to force her to act and speak against her own younger nature. There is a sense that people change over time, but the core of their personality does not, and the subtle but deep change in Anne feels almost like a betrayal.
Montgomery, Lucy M. “Where the Brook and the River Meet.” Anne of Green Gables. Modern Library, 2008, pp. 233-236.