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Anne of Green Gables | Chapter 4 : Morning at Green Gables | Summary

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Summary

When Anne wakes up the next morning, she remembers her disappointment of the previous night. Still, it's such a beautiful day she can't stay sad. "I'm not in the depths of despair this morning," she tells Marilla. At breakfast she prattles on until Marilla begs her to be quiet—at which Anne completely stops talking and stares dreamily at nothing while she eats. Marilla is feeling increasingly uneasy. How can Matthew want to keep such a strange child? But after breakfast Anne does the dishes competently enough, though she refuses to play outside. She says she is "resigned to my fate now, so I don't think I'll go out for fear I'll get unresigned again."

Marilla begins to see Anne's appeal, but she is still determined to send her back to the orphanage in Nova Scotia. As she and Anne set off in the buggy, Matthew casually mentions he's hired a boy to help him for the summer, a hint there's now no need to adopt a boy—can't they just keep Anne?—but Marilla refuses to take the hint and crossly drives away.

Analysis

An important moment occurs at the beginning of this chapter as Anne opens the bedroom window. The sash goes up "stiffly and creakily, as if it hadn't been opened for a long time." Then it sticks "so tight that nothing was needed to hold it up." Anne's presence is bringing symbolic fresh air into this airtight house, and once the process begins, nothing can stop it. Like the window, Anne won't be dislodged.

This chapter functions mainly as a transition between settings. There's not much action and, perhaps, a little too much of Anne's wondrous imaginings. Modern readers may squirm when Anne decides to name Marilla's geranium and the cherry tree outside her window, but she's got a poignant reason for doing so. She likes "things to have handles even if they are only geraniums. It makes them seem more like people." Once again Anne is unconsciously revealing how lonely she has been—so lonely she resorts to treating inanimate objects as friends.

In the "geranium" conversation, Anne again speaks to Marilla almost as a peer, without any of the deference that might be expected from a little orphan girl. As she explains, "You wouldn't like to be called nothing but a woman all the time." Throughout the book Marilla will often tell Anne she talks too much, but she'll never reproach her for being direct. In fact she'll later defend Anne when the girl lashes out at Mrs. Lynde. Marilla may seem stiff and severe, but she has the makings of a good guardian: she respects Anne's need to express herself.

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