The two weeks right before Thanksgiving are always the hardest. Professors pile on every last minute project and exam they can fit in before finals, clubs have multiple food drives, and it seems like everyone is losing their chill.
Or maybe it's just me.
So I did what anyone would do: I caved into my stress-buying tendencies and bought a book. Truthfully, I haven't sat down to read a book since I graduated high school and nothing I've read since has grabbed my attention. Upon reading the first chapter, I was lost in the world of Avonlea and found a friend in Anne of Green Gables.
For those who don't know, Anne Shirley is the main protagonist in L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series. She is adopted by aging siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who are expecting a boy to help with their farm but instead got Anne. After a few mishaps with the talkative, spacey Anne, they decide to keep her. The rest of the book details her adventures with her best friend, Diana Barry, her fierce academic rivalry with Gilbert Blythe, and other interactions with the residents of Avonlea.
While I read this book, I felt a strong connection with Anne and could relate to a lot of her mishaps and insecurities. I picked some of the most significant parts of Anne of Green Gables that a lot of twenty-year-olds can relate and admire.
Warning: There will be spoilers from the book series.
When Diana Barry meets Anne Shirley
Before arriving in Avonlea, Anne has shuffled around from home to home and never had any real friends, just her reflection, who she pretended was a girl named Katie Maurice. Diana is the first non-imaginary friend Anne has ever had. Upon meeting each other, Anne dramatically declares that they will be the "bosom friends" and Diana's response is...
“You’re a queer girl, Anne. I heard before that you were queer. But I believe I’m going to like you real well.”
Even though Anne is spacey and impulsive, Diana accepts her for who she is. Anne and Diana's relationship throughout the book defines what true friendship means. Sure, Anne and Diana have other friends in the book, kind of like how we have our group of friends different classes, but their friendship is constant.
She realizes there are more kindred spirits in the world.
Yes, you have that one person who you can tell everything to and won't judge you for it, but you are one of seven billion people on earth. As much as you'd like to be friends with everybody, you can't. Hence where the term "kindred spirits" come in. A kindred spirit is someone who you can relate to and enjoy being around. Anne first says this to Marilla, her caretaker, about the latter's brother, Matthew.
“I think he’s lovely,” said Anne reproachfully. “He is so very sympathetic. He didn’t mind how much I talked—he seemed to like it. I felt that he was a kindred spirit as soon as ever I saw him.”
Anne later finds another kindred spirit in Diana Barry's crotchety Aunt Josephine, who Anne and Diana unintentionally jump on while racing to a spare bedroom. While Anne is apologizing for herself and Diana, Aunt Josephine takes an interest in the spirited redhead, and Anne realizes that Aunt Josephine isn't that bad after all.
"Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
Early on in the book, Anne explains to Matthew that she could imagine a million things about herself, but she could never imagine away her bright, red hair.
“Now you see why I can’t be perfectly happy. Nobody could who has red hair. I don’t mind the other things so much—the freckles and the green eyes and my skinniness. I can imagine them away. I can imagine that I have a beautiful rose-leaf complexion and lovely starry violet eyes. But I cannot imagine that red hair away."
Part of this conversation strikes a chord with anyone who has that one, great insecurity. Unlike most of us who keep quiet about said insecurities, Anne Shirley raises hell when someone calls her carrots. Once, when Marilla's gossipy friend, Rachel Lynde, nitpicks at the eleven-year old's looks-
-and twice when Gilbert Blythe pulls on her pigtails and calls her carrots.
Anyone, and I mean anyone, who's had someone point out that one thing we hate about ourselves knows exactly how Anne feels. Although it's not appropriate to tell old ladies off or whack boys with a slate when they're rude, we've all wanted to when it has happened.
Fight like a girl
Not in the physical sense, as seen in the GIF above, but in the passionate sense. After Diana's mother forbids her from hanging out with Anne anymore, the fiery redhead devotes herself to beating Gilbert in every subject in school.
"She flung herself into her studies heart and soul, determined not to be outdone in any class by Gilbert Blythe. The rivalry between them was soon apparent; it was entirely good natured on Gilbert’s side; but it is much to be feared that the same thing cannot be said of Anne, who had certainly an unpraiseworthy tenacity for holding grudges. She was as intense in her hatreds as in her loves."
Her passion for excelling lands her in the Queen's Class, the class for students who plan on going off to college, gets her teaching license in one year instead of two and wins the prestigious Avery Scholarship.
Plans and people change
After Anne is awarded the Avery Scholarship and comes home for the summer, Matthew dies of a heart attack. Marilla can't take care of the farm on her own because of her failing eyesight and doesn't want to sell the farm. Anne decides to turn down the scholarship and stay in Avonlea to teach and help Marilla with the farm. When Marilla protests, Anne reassures her that everything will be alright.
"When I left Queen’s my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does. "
Anne is also surprised when Gilbert, her supposed sworn enemy, gives up his position as a teacher in Avonlea, so she won't have to travel far to get to and from school. The two agree to be friends and later become romantically involved later in the series.