Anne of Green Gables | Study Guide

L. M. Montgomery

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Anne of Green Gables | Chapter 26 : The Story Club Is Formed | Summary

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Summary

Anne and her friends find life flat and dull after the excitement of the previous weeks. "I'm afraid concerts spoil people for everyday life," she mourns. But gradually life returns to normal and the daily dramas of school life assume their former importance.

The winter passes quickly, and Anne's 13th birthday arrives in March. She's staggered by this milestone. As she and Diana walk through the woods—Miss Stacy has assigned the class a composition called "A Winter's Walk in the Woods," and they're doing research—they gossip about their classmates. Josie Pye is as annoying as ever. Ruby Gillis thinks of nothing but boys. Alice Bell is already putting her hair up at 16, but Anne and Diana think it's ridiculous not to wait until they're 17.

Diana sighs that it will be easy enough to write about the woods, but she's dreading Miss Stacy's next assignment: "to write a story out of our own heads!" Anne's story has been finished for a week. "I just cried like a child while I was writing it," she says. It's a romance called "The Jealous Rival; or In Death Not Divided," and features girls named Cordelia and Geraldine who, unfortunately, both love a man named Bertram DeVere. Marilla thinks it's nonsense, but Matthew thinks it's fine. "That is the kind of critic I like," says Anne.

Diana is filled with admiration. If only her imagination were as good as Anne's! Diana's words give Anne an idea. Why not form a story club, with each member writing one story a week? The club is a success. Each girl uses a pen name. (Anne's is Rosamond Montmorency.) They read the stories and then discuss them. "We are going to keep them all sacredly and have them to read to our descendants," Anne tells Marilla. Ruby Gillis puts in too much lovemaking, Jane's efforts are too sensible, and Diana relies too much on murders. As a rule Anne has to come up with plots for everyone, but that's easy for her.

Marilla scoffs, "This story-writing business is the foolishest yet." Anne answers earnestly each story must include a moral. Strangely Aunt Josephine and the Allans laugh when they read some of the stories. Anne has no idea why.

Analysis

June was Montgomery's favorite month, arriving "as the winter months slipped by." Indeed almost half the chapters take place in June. But she doesn't seem to have much to say about winter. A later chapter mentions "a jolly, busy, happy swift-flying winter." Later still, when Anne is studying at Queen's, she marvels "a whole winter of studies and classes" has gone by so fast.

Anne's and Diana's conversation about Alice Bell's hair is typical for the period. A similar conversation today might be about the age at which children should be allowed to get their ears pierced. In the Victorian era women's hair was an even more important part of their appearance than it is now. Girls were expected not to cut their hair if possible. A photo of Montgomery as a child shows her with hair down to her hips; in many photos of older girls and women, their hair almost reaches the floor. Girls left their hair loose or braided it. When they were old enough—usually from 15 to 17—they put it up in a variety of styles. Four feet of hair bunched on the tops of their heads must have been heavy.

The cover of the first edition of Anne of Green Gables featured a lovely woman whose hair is styled in a pompadour—a loose bun swept back from her forehead. The model for this image was a young woman named Evelyn Nesbit, who would later be caught up in a scandalous affair with the architect Stanford White. The image itself appeared in a 1903 issue of Metropolitan magazine, to which Montgomery subscribed. It's clearly intended to be Anne as a young lady, which may have been a marketing device. Both Montgomery and her publisher hoped adults as well as children would read the book. While girls would read a book with a young woman on the cover, young women might not be attracted to a cover showing a little girl.

As Anne and Diana discuss Alice Bell's hair, they can't know Anne will dye her own hair green in the following chapter. Anne's hair is long and thick at the moment; after the dye adventure, she won't be able to think about "putting it up" for years.

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