Chapter XXI: Romantic But Not Comfortable
By, Takako Willden
“Chapter XXI: Romantic But Not Comfortable” starts out by describing Emily rationalizing about having bangs. After witnessing Teddy’s admiration to Ilse who has beautiful blonde hair with soft bangs, Emily’s long-term wish for having a bang surfaces. Emily cuts her bangs and ends up confessing her deeds to Aunt Elizabeth. She receives a few different punishments which stir up more events at New Moon.
By this time, Emily has adjusted fairly well to her life at New Moon with her aunts, Elizabeth and Laura, even though different challenges continue in her life, as well as those around her. Emily often feels resentful to Aunt Elizabeth who is too set in her own ways. She does make an effort to be obedient because she does feel gratitude for being taken in at New Moon, but when the demands placed on her seem to be unreasonable, she has to wrestle within herself to find an acceptable balance between her wants and Aunt Elizabeth’s expectations.
As a mother who can still recall what was like to be growing up as a young girl, I felt for Emily but could also relate to Aunt Elizabeth in some ways. I remember wondering why I was never allowed to have my hair long as some of my school classmates did. It occurred to me many years later, that it was a matter of my mother being practical since she was the one who cut my hair, as well as my younger sister’s. As I read the chapter, I was seeing myself at times as Emily who just wanted to be herself and be heard, and other times, Aunt Elizabeth, a caregiver who honestly believes that her way is right for Emily’s best interest, and is more concerned about running the household with all the old traditions to protect the family reputation. As strict as she is, Aunt Elizabeth does teach Emily consequences. Elizabeth lacks two-way communication skills, however, and it is unfortunate that Emily is not able to freely express how she feels without being made to feel like she did something wrong. As parents, we may be guilty on occasion of not having listening ears and open hearts. I’m glad that Emily reminded me to be a better mother. As my wise mother-in-law often said to us gently, we can all say to each other, “Well, let’s talk about this.”
L.M. Montgomery was so brilliant in weaving rich life experiences in her works. Her Emily series is no exception. As young as she is, I so admire Emily’s strength and good heart.
If you are wondering why this Chapter is titled, “Romantic but not Comfortable,” may I say that it is about Emily growing up. In her case, it is her dealing with Teddy and Perry. She handles the situation wisely.
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Takako Willden grew up in Japan loving L.M. Montgomery’s books, especially, Anne of Green Gables. She currently resides in Wisconsin, U.S.A and teaches yoga part-time. She is a mother of five and a grandmother of two. Her husband took her on a surprise wedding anniversary trip to Prince Edward Island. It was her dream come true.