The latest entry, "Chapter XXII: Anne is Invited Out to Tea," in the LMMI's Anne of Green Gables Read-a-long comes from author and retired school teacher, Lynda Leader.
Chapter XXII: Anne is Invited Out to Tea
By, Lynda M. Leader
“Anne is Invited to Tea”, is a short but engaging chapter which is positioned more than halfway through the Anne of Green Gables novel. Sixteen more chapters follow, describing Anne’s adventures in Green Gables and Avonlea. As I read it, L.M. Montgomery has changed her plot tactics, from Anne making a series of mistakes in previous chapters, to creating a more light-hearted chapter, which will relate a series of Anne’s thrills, joys and excitement in the world around her, such as an invitation, letter, visit, new people, opportunities, and Mrs. Lynde’s news.
At the beginning of this chapter, Anne is anticipating another new venture, her first invitation to the church manse for afternoon tea with Mrs. Allan: “I am invited to tea at the manse tomorrow afternoon! Mrs. Allan left the letter for me at the post office. Just look at it Marilla. ‘Miss Anne Shirley, Green Gables.’ That is the first time I was ever called ‘Miss.’ Such a thrill it gave me! I shall cherish it for ever among my choicest treasures.”
This chapter also introduces or recognizes four strong, independent women, Marilla, Mrs. Allan, Mrs. Lynde and Miss Stacy, who now and in the future have an important influence on Anne’s life. These four respected, important people are active in the community and Anne’s life. A minister’s wife, a school teacher, community members on church and charity committees, and long-standing members of Avonlea society, have an influence on Anne. These are the women who are her role models, leading her to brand new possibilities in her studies, manners, social activities and the skills needed to belong to a small community.
Anne is impressed with Mrs. Allan, trusts and respects her. Anne has enough confidence in Mrs. Allan to tell about her earlier experiences, at the orphanage and with several families where she was treated like a servant. Here Anne was overworked, caring for many children, cleaning and doing outside chores, but Anne received very little in return. A bond forms between Mrs. Allan and Anne which makes her feel comfortable relating her happier times with Katie Maurice and Violetta, her imaginary friends. Anne is sure Mrs. Allan is the perfect woman, as she refers to her as a seraph, equating her with the highest ranking angel. Mrs. Allan is important in Anne’s life.
After spending the afternoon with Mrs. Allan, Anne reports to Marilla that, “ I really think I’d like to be a minister’s wife when I grow up, Marilla.”
Is Montgomery foreshadowing what the future holds for herself or Anne, first a career as a teacher and then a minister’s wife? Or as there were very few acceptable careers for women at this time, these were the only logical, good choices that were available?
Anne’s narrow world has been expanding with the help of Matthew and Marilla, her main mentors in her life so far. But spending the afternoon with Mrs. Allan in serious conversations, Anne is learning new ways to express herself and expand her small world of Green Gables.
Mrs. Allan points out to Anne that she should sing in the choir as she has a good voice. Anne is glowing as she relates this to Marilla: “Mrs. Allan says I have a good voice and she says I must sing in the Sunday school choir after this. You can’t think how I was thrilled at the mere thought.”
It is striking to the reader that another new character is introduced, one which is never mentioned again, a girl from another part of the island, visiting Mrs. Allan on the same Sunday afternoon as Anne: “There was another little girl at the Manse for tea, from the White Sands Sunday school. Her name was Lauretta Bradly, and she was a very nice little girl. Not exactly a kindred spirit you know, but still very nice.”
In the many times which I have read Anne of Green Gables, I cannot recall Montgomery mentioning Lauretta, before this chapter or ever again. White Sands was a popular place to visit and had good food and accommodations and is referred to several times in the novel, but no mention of Miss Bradley. Does this character represent another more sophisticated world outside of Anne’s world? Or is Mrs. Allan just introducing Anne to a possible new friend? Near the conclusion of the book, Anne states that Mr. Barry is taking Diana and herself to dinner at White Sands for a special treat. Montgomery could be foreshadowing some of the pleasures Anne may anticipate in the future.
Anne enjoys another ‘thrill’ when Mrs. Rachael Lynde tells Mrs. Allan that a new teacher has been hired. Anne likes the female teacher’s name, Miss Muriel Stacy and is happy she will be replacing Mr. Philips as her teacher. Anne can hardly wait to meet Miss Stacy and begin school in two weeks.
Anne’s ‘thrills’ and excitement are demonstrated throughout the chapter, Anne being called ‘Miss’ on a formal invitation, invited to tea at the Manse, asked to sing, meeting Loretta, talks with Mrs. Allan, fine weather, new teacher, all which fill Anne with pleasure. Not One Mistake!
“Excitement hung around Anne like a garment, shone in her eyes, kindled in every feature.”
Chapter XII begins with Anne as an enthusiastic child looking forward to a special activity and concludes with a new interest in School, focused on a new teacher, Miss Stacy. Montgomery wrote a completely joyful chapter with no Anne mistakes!
Lynda M. Leader, BA, 1989, Trent University is a retired elementary teacher/librarian living in Iroquois, Ontario. Published children’s books are Animals in My Garden (2015), The Empty Bird House (2017), and The Anne of Green Gables Alphabet Book (2017). Lynda enjoys gardening, swimming, skiing and skating , quilt design, sewing and, of course, writing.