Anne of Green Gables | Study Guide

L. M. Montgomery

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Anne of Green Gables | Chapter 35 : The Winter at Queen's | Summary

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Summary

Anne and her companions soon settle in at Queen's, though Anne still thinks her weekends in Avonlea are the best part of the week. She makes a devoted circle of friends at the Academy but it galls her Gilbert spends so much time with Ruby Gillis. She generally eats her Sunday dinner at the house of Miss Josephine Barry, of whom she's still a favorite. Anne wishes she had someone like Gilbert with whom she could joke and talk and "exchange ideas about books and studies and ambitions." But for the most part, boys are nothing more than "possible good comrades" to her.

The Avonlea group acquits itself well at the Academy. Anne and Gilbert are both taking the two-year course in one year, and both work furiously hard at their studies. Still intense, their academic rivalry has lost the bitterness it had back at school in Avonlea. Now Anne wants only "the proud consciousness of a well-won victory over a worthy foeman."

At the Academy three are in contention for the medal: Anne, Gilbert, and another boy; six are in contention for the Avery scholarship, including Anne. Ruby Gillis is the prettiest girl of her year; stolid Jane Andrews excels in the domestic science course; and Josie Pye is said to be the sharpest-tongued girl at the school. Miss Stacy's former students are doing her credit.

Before Anne knows it, spring has come and with it, the looming final examinations. Anne is less nervous than the other girls from Avonlea, even when spiteful Josie Pye tells her a student named Emily Clay is rumored most likely to win the Avery scholarship. "Next to trying and winning," Anne says cheerfully, "the best thing is trying and failing."

Analysis

Chapter 35 is mostly exposition intended to fast-forward Anne through the Queen's academic year. There's little dialogue and lots of logistics. Montgomery occasionally falls back on chapters like this, and checking off all the plot elements makes it hard for her to do much characterization. In such cases throughout the Anne of Green Gables series, she often resorts to having another character describe Anne. It's almost as if she were saying, "I'm busy moving all these characters around, but here's a reminder Anne is still wonderful."

In this chapter Miss Josephine Barry's comment fills this function. "That Anne-girl improves all the time," she says. Montgomery doesn't specify whom she's talking to, as Miss Barry adds "Anne has as many shades as a rainbow and every shade is the prettiest while it lasts." It's hard to imagine a real person saying something like this, particularly a cranky woman like Miss Barry. But Montgomery seems to feel if she doesn't have someone pay Anne some compliments, readers will forget about her. For the modern reader, however, the technique may seem cloying.

Montgomery slips in some interesting contrasts in the way the Avonlea girls think about their exams. All except Josie believe their entire future depends on them. Jane and Ruby are nervous; Josie doesn't care whether she passes or fails; and the year of hard work has given Anne a perspective the other girls seem to lack. As with Miss Josephine Barry's comment, Anne's detachment before the exam doesn't quite ring true. (How many 16-year-olds explain grades don't matter compared with the way the sky looks over "the purply-dark beech-woods" at home?) But her attitude shows how much she's matured in one short school year away from Avonlea.

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