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Anne of Green Gables | Chapter 34 : A Queen's Girl | Summary

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Summary

The three weeks after the White Sands concert are filled with preparations for Anne's departure. Matthew authorizes payment for a substantial wardrobe, and Marilla commissions a seamstress to make beautiful clothes for Anne. Though Marilla can't quite come up with the words to tell Anne how much she'll miss her, her heart aches to think how lonely she and Matthew will be once Anne is at Queen's. Both Marilla and Diana weep when it's finally time for Matthew to take Anne to town.

On Anne's first day at teachers' college, she feels a pang at finding herself in a classroom with 50 other students, all complete strangers. She hasn't much time to think, but as soon as evening falls, she finds herself alone in her dismal little boarding-house bedroom. Unlike beautiful Green Gables, her room faces a "hard street, with a network of telephone wires shutting out the sky." She's about to burst into tears when Josie Pye drops in for a visit. Jane and Ruby arrive soon after. With the aid of Marilla's cake, the Avonlea contingent begins to cheer up.

Josie happens to mention that for the first time, Queen's will offer a scholarship—the Avery—for the best English student. The winner will receive a full four-year scholarship to Redmond College. Anne's spirits revive instantly. "The horizons of her ambition shifted and broadened as if by magic," and she resolves to win the Avery.

Analysis

At a time when women were not generally praised for being ambitious, Montgomery makes it clear Anne's ambition is a positive. Mere mention of the Avery scholarship motivates Anne by an order of magnitude. Before Josie's words have died away, Anne is already imagining herself graduating from Redmond "in a gown and mortar board." There are no gowns at the Queen's commencement—just dresses.

Montgomery must have wished she'd received a college scholarship. Like Anne she graduated from teachers' college in a single year, but her grandfather disapproved of her going to college, so she had to find the money herself. She worked as a teacher for a year, her grandmother offered to pay half of the first year's tuition, and Montgomery supplemented her own earnings by writing for the Toronto Ladies' Journal. The total equaled the sum she needed to attend college in Halifax, but no money was left after her first year and no Avery to help her out. Montgomery deeply resented that her grandparents hadn't helped her more financially.

Anne has no problem finding support from the Cuthberts. Matthew is generous with funds, and Marilla, who once complained puffed sleeves were a waste of fabric, is now eager for Anne to be well dressed when she goes to Queen's. She hires a seamstress to make "something real dressy to wear" if Anne is asked out for the evening. It would never have occurred to the old Marilla that Anne might spend an evening away from her studies, and she certainly would have disapproved of the finished dress, "made up with as many tucks and frills and shirrings as Emily's taste permitted."

Anne's first night at college is reminiscent of her first night at Green Gables—except that it's now Marilla, not Anne, who cries herself to sleep. Gradually Anne is becoming the supportive person in their relationship as Marilla relinquishes some of her own authority.

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