Anne of Green Gables | Study Guide

L. M. Montgomery

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Anne of Green Gables | Chapter 14 : Anne's Confession | Summary

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Summary

Two nights before the picnic, a worried Marilla asks Anne if she's seen the amethyst brooch. Anne admits she tried it on but put it right back. Marilla, unconvinced, makes a thorough search for the brooch without success. When Anne still refuses to confess she's responsible for its loss, Marilla is furious. She dispatches Anne to her room and spends the rest of the evening fretting.

Marilla feels alone in her plight. Matthew won't help her; Anne isn't the child she took her to be. Sternly she tells Anne she'll have to stay in her room until she confesses. Anne pleads to be allowed at least to attend the picnic and then return to confinement, but Marilla won't budge.

The next morning, a bright-eyed Anne announces she's ready to confess. She unspools a speech that sounds as if she has prepared it in advance: she wore the brooch outside (pretending she was "the Lady Cordelia") and accidentally dropped it into the Lake of Shining Waters. There it "sank forevermore."

Anne's calm manner makes Marilla even angrier, and she forbids Anne to go to the picnic. "But you PROMISED me I might! ... That was why I confessed," pleads Anne. When she realizes Marilla won't change her mind, she bursts into such hysterical tears that Marilla is appalled. Anne refuses to eat dinner (which is served in the middle of the day at Green Gables), and Marilla brings Matthew up to date on the morning's events. He makes it clear he thinks the punishment is too strict, but Marilla ignores him.

After dinner Marilla goes to her room to mend a tear in her best shawl. As she lifts the shawl from her trunk, she realizes the amethyst brooch is hanging to it by a thread and must have been there for the past two days. She hurries to Anne's room and asks her what's going on. An exhausted Anne explains because Marilla had said she couldn't leave her room until she'd confessed, she dreamed up a confession on the assumption Marilla would let her out in time for the picnic. Marilla admits she should have believed Anne from the beginning. Anne shouldn't have fabricated her story, "but I drove you to it." And now, if each of them can forgive the other, it's time for Anne to get ready for the picnic.

Analysis

This chapter shows the near-totemic importance people ascribe to their possessions when they don't have many. The amethyst brooch is almost the only piece of jewelry mentioned in this book. Anne has her string of pearl beads and her pearl bead ring, but that's all. To Marilla the brooch is so valuable "she would have thought it rather sacrilegious" not to wear it to church. Marilla, who often reminds Anne looks don't matter, is nevertheless "always pleasantly conscious of [the amethyst's] violet shimmer at her throat." Anne's "confession" about losing the brooch shows the same near-reverence for it.

More important, the chapter examines the nature of trust. Marilla knows, on one hand, Anne doesn't steal or lie, but what else is she to think if Anne was the last person to see the brooch? Anne assumes once she's apologized she'll be allowed to go to the picnic; she believes Marilla has gone back on her word. Both Marilla and Anne feel betrayed, and both have good reason to feel that way.

Readers can't ask Montgomery which she thinks is worse: not doing something wrong and then falsely confessing to it or doing something wrong and concealing it. But the chapter seems to tilt in Anne's favor—though Marilla's confusion and anger are understandable. Certainly Montgomery must have had fun writing the confession! Anne has many funny lines, and she also has a good understanding of how she would have behaved in that situation. "I went all the way around by the road to lengthen the time" so she could keep wearing the brooch: perfect.

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