The Secret Garden | Study Guide

Frances Hodgson Burnett

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The Secret Garden | Chapter 19 : "It Has Come!" | Summary

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Summary

Dr. Craven arrives to check on his patient, as he always does after Colin has had a tantrum. He is surprised to see him laughing and chattering with Mary. Colin announces he will be going outside in a day or two. Dr. Craven cautions him to take it easy so he does not get tired and to take a nurse with him. Colin, in his imperious manner, informs the doctor that he will not need a nurse as his cousin Mary will take care of him. He declares that she makes him feel better. Craven worries about losing the chance to inherit Misselthwaite Manor if Colin gets better, but puts his patient's health above his potential personal gain. Mary and Colin inform the doctor that Dickon will push Colin's carriage, and the doctor gives his approval.

Dr. Craven laughs when Mary speaks in the Yorkshire dialect. He asks if Dickon taught her that. Mary informs him she is learning a new language "as if it was French," which is what "very clever people" do. When the doctor cautions Colin to remember his illness, he responds, "I don't want to remember," because remembering causes him to have pains and think of things he hates. He explains that his cousin makes him better because she "makes me forget." Mrs. Medlock tells Dr. Craven that she went to school with Mrs. Sowerby, of whom she is "fond."

That night Colin's nerves relax and he sleeps well. The next morning, Mary runs into his room and announces spring has come. She opens his window to let in fresh air—something he had detested in the past, for fear it would give him a cold. She tells him to breathe it in deeply. As he does, he feels it in his veins and feels as "if he could live forever and ever." Mary tells him Dickon has found an orphaned newborn lamb and will soon be arriving with it and several other creatures. Colin tells his nurse, who expresses her hope the animals won't bite, to which Colin replies, "Charmers' animals never bite."

Colin stares in "wonder and delight" when Dickon, the lamb, the fox, the crow, and the squirrels arrive in his room. Having never talked to a boy before, Colin is speechless. Dickon, who never feels awkward when an animal does not know his language, immediately puts Colin at ease by placing the lamb in his lap. After Dickon feeds the lamb, the children start talking and looking at flowers in Colin's garden books. An excited Colin announces he is going to see the flowers, and Mary tells him there is no time to lose.

Analysis

Colin breathes fresh air from an open window on the very day spring arrives at Misselthwaite. Spring is symbolic of new life, growth, and rejuvenation. Colin is no longer dwelling on his health fears, he is embracing fresh air, and he wants to go outdoors—and he is doing so eagerly, without being coerced or forced. Mary's entrance into his life causes him to break his habits and changes his relationships with his nurse and doctor.

Sensory imagery is an important component Burnett uses to convey the children's connection to nature, which reinvigorates their perspective on life. When Mary opens the window, "softness and scents and bird's songs were pouring through." Colin also notices, as he has in previous chapters, that Mary smells like the outdoors, "bringing with her a waft of fresh air full of the scent of the morning ... 'There's that nice smell of leaves!' he cried." For children who have been as literally and psychologically enclosed as Mary and Colin have, their ability to see, hear, touch, and especially smell the world around them vitally connects them to it. The power of language to foster this connection and assist the healing process is also important throughout the novel. This is especially true when Mary describes Dickon and his animals, whom Colin has yet to meet, and the beauties of the secret garden, which Colin has yet to visit. An important moment in this chapter occurs when Dickon and his animals finally cross the threshold of Colin's room. What has been fantasy becomes reality for Colin, who now determines to visit the secret garden for himself.

Mary's positive thinking is contagious, and Colin now has an interest in something outside himself. He shows significant self-awareness and realizes that "remembering" he is ill, as the doctor cautions him to do, is harmful and counterproductive. Instead, he welcomes diversions that keep him from focusing on his fears or negative thoughts about the future. This new positive outlook has an immediate beneficial effect on his health. Although Colin does not have a hunchback or a fatal illness, his fears have indeed made him sick. By thinking of other things, he allows his body to get some needed relief.

Burnett makes several religious references in this chapter. When Mary opens the window, Colin comments perhaps they would hear "golden trumpets," an allusion to angels who sound trumpets at the entrance of paradise. The secret garden is comparable to that paradise, or the Garden of Eden, a place of innocence, where God intended humans to live before they fell into sin. The motherless lamb is a symbol of Jesus Christ, "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" in the Bible (John 1:29). That story is also one of transformation, a dominant theme of The Secret Garden.

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