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Anne of Green Gables | Chapter 7 : Anne Says Her Prayers | Summary

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Summary

At the end of the momentous day Marilla takes Anne up to her room, lectures her about picking up her clothes, and prepares to hear her prayers. She is horrified when Anne informs her she never prays: "People who have to look after twins can't be expected to say their prayers." Marilla, showing telltale signs of a sense of humor, realizes the conventional children's prayer will not do for Anne and tells her she's old enough to come up with her own prayer. Anne obligingly kneels by her bed and prays sincerely, if unconventionally, ending with "please let me stay at Green Gables; and please let me be good-looking when I grow up."

Marilla reminds herself Anne has had no religious instruction. She finds Matthew in the kitchen and announces Anne is "next door to a perfect heathen." It's going to take a lot of work bringing her religious education up to speed—but there's no turning back now.

Analysis

Marilla firmly informs Matthew she'll take Anne to the manse the next day and borrow the Peep of the Day series. A bit of background: a manse is the house where a Presbyterian minister lives. It therefore follows Marilla is a Presbyterian. So is Mrs. Lynde, whose good works appear listed in Chapter 1. As it will turn out, so are most of the main characters in the book. As readers will see, Anne becomes a devout Presbyterian but remains critical of certain aspects of Christianity.

Not surprisingly Anne's view of the divine is fresher and more original than Marilla's more conventional one. Anne resists the idea that praying can be done only while kneeling indoors. Why, she wonders, can't she go outside and "FEEL a prayer" instead of mouthing traditional platitudes? How can God have given her red hair on purpose?

Readers never find out how Anne feels about the Peep of the Day series, but it's a safe bet she wouldn't care for it. Written in the mid-19th century by the British wife of an evangelical minister, this tremendously popular series was billed as "the earliest religious instruction the infant mind is capable of receiving." Anne's mind is hardly infantile, and it seems likely she would reject the oversimplified text and strongly punitive tone of the books. One passage in the first lesson explains, "If a great box were to fall on your head, your head would be crushed. If you were to fall out of the window, your neck would be broken ... You see that you have a very weak little body. You should try not to hurt yourself, but God only can keep your body from all harm."

For Marilla the Peep of the Day books are an entirely proper way to give Anne some religious training. Still she can't bring herself to teach Anne the "now I lay me down to sleep" prayer. It's too primitive and simplistic for a girl like Anne. Already it is dawning on Marilla a girl with Anne's temperament and intelligence needs a more flexible approach.

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