Anne of Green Gables: Critical Thoughts

It almost seemed to her that those secret, unuttered, critical thoughts had suddenly taken visible and accusing shape and form in the person of this outspoken morsel of neglected humanity.

p. 99

We will, in our propriety, keep critical thoughts secret—though certainly less today than in the past, and on social media, not at all. Yet Anne is not what social media has become. Social media is not the outspoken morsel of neglected humanity but the I-have-a-voice-so-I’ll-say-what-I-want. Anne is uncensored, often, because she’s unafraid. But unlike social media, she’s not hiding behind a screen name or avatar. She’s having a conversation with flesh and blood, not trying to be nasty, not trying to win. She’s just relaying the details of the morning with an innocent honesty: an honesty that we, through propriety, have rightly learned to filter. Anne’s filter will mature. 

Often we should keep things to ourselves. A can is not an ought. It does not benefit us or the recipient of our barbs to run others down in public—whether that public is a crowd, a social media following, or a lone confidant. Gossip is a scourge to our souls and a disservice to our community. It proves our lack of love for our fellow man. It proves our cowardice. 

But there’s something else going on here. Anne is giving voice and understanding to Marilla’s thoughts. Anne is opening Marilla’s eyes to process life in color and not just the black and white of Avonlea’s conventions. She’s also giving her a tangible distinction between wrong and innocent foolishness. This distinction that Marilla is waking up to will help Marilla raise Anne to know the difference as well. 

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