Books, characters, favorites, fiction, heroines, influences

Anne and Me

Last night I watched the first half of Anne of Green Gables with a group of ladies in my building (and you can be absolutely certain that, mature, reasoned, responsible ladies that we are, we were every one of us sorely tempted to stay up until midnight watching the entire thing, and only barely managed to be sensible enough to call it a night after Part 1).

It got me thinking about Anne, and my relationship with her over the years. As a child, she was one of my best friends. I adored her temper, her dramatics (and sadly, unconsciously imitated both), her sense of beauty in the world, her vivid imagination (I unconsciously imitated those as well, with a much happier result). Anne, like Lucy Pevensie, Vesper Holly, Mary Lennox, Sara Crewe, Jo March, Emily Starr, Eilonwy of Prydain, Betsy Ray, and others whom I am most certainly forgetting at the moment, had a hand in shaping the person I grew to become.

As an adult, I started to lose some patience with Anne. Her dramatics made me wince, her over-exaggerations caused me to roll my eyes, her disdain for ordinary, everyday life seemed short-sighted and arrogant.

Watching the movie this time around, though, I found myself with an entirely new perspective. When others laughed at her statements such as “being in the depths of despair” or wishing to be called Cordelia instead of Anne, I found myself wanting to gather her in a big hug. I think it’s being a mother of little girls that’s helping shift the way I see things now. Now I can see Anne as the child who never had any kind of touchstone with reality, whose only exposure to a life beyond harshness and ugliness came from books, and who genuinely had no idea how to properly interact with the world until Matthew, Marilla, and Diana (and even Mrs Lynde, to an extent, in her advice to put Anne in school and Sunday School) showed her through example and friendship. Now I find myself getting really emotional, as Matthew’s kindness and Marilla’s practicality took a child who literally had no life beyond books and made her capable of living in the world and loving it as much as her dreams. Instead of wincing at her insistence on giving everything “imaginative” names, I now can appreciate how she was simply trying, in her own childish way, to make the beauty that she saw for the first time in her life fit the flaming glories it brought to her inner life.

I said in a post a little while ago that while I still love Anne, I don’t know that we would be friends anymore – I had started to feel like I’d outgrown her. I don’t feel that way anymore. Now I think I’ve gotten to a point of enough maturity to properly love her and befriend her once again.

8 thoughts on “Anne and Me”

  1. I love how our perspectives on the literature we have always loved changes as we reach different stages of our lives. I have to admit that there have been times when Anne’s Annishness grated on me. However like you, when I read through Anne with L last year, I looked at her more with not only the eyes of a mother, but also the eyes of an adult who is more capable of looking back on my own childhood with a more discerning eye.

    Like Anne, I spent a great deal of my life emerged in make-believe. For me it as more television than literature until probably my teens. I read, but the books weren’t exactly classics by any standards. I was always drawn to things where mothers and daughters or even sisters had close relationships, because that was something I was never going to get at home – at least not in any healthy manner.

    So now yeah, like you I want to just hug Anne. I guess my lesson to learn from this is to keep my eyes open to possible Annes out there as I work with L’s classes at church and eventually school. I think I’m a fairly stable adult, but I had a lot of Marillas, Matthews, Dianas, and Mrs. Lyndes along the way to help shape me.

    1. I really, really want to hurry up and finish Farmer Boy (aka the story wherein nothing EVER HAPPENS) with Joy so we can start reading Anne together. I had been thinking of starting The Book of Three next, but … I don’t know, I think she’s at absolutely the right stage for Anne.

        1. In the most recent chapter, something ALMOST happened … but didn’t (they were almost robbed, but a stray dog chased the robbers away before they even got within sight of the house). And that was the most exciting chapter thus far in the book!

    1. It is amazing how having children, and then having children at different stages of life, shifts your perspective. I didn’t have anywhere near this empathy for Anne when Joy and Grace were babies, but now that they’re older and have well-developed personalities of their own … yeah. Everything’s different.

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