Tag Archives: Lucy Maud Montgomery

Dear Maud

Dear Maud,

I read that your friends and family called you “Maud.” Though I was born more than a century after you were, I consider you a friend and I daresay that you would have considered your readers as your kindred spirits.

I have just seen “Julie and Julia” for the 3rd time. You might wonder how this bit of information is relevant to you. Well, Julie Powell, inspired by Julia Child and her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, tackled 524 recipes in 365 days — blogging all the way to completion. While I may not know this for sure, I’d like to think that her project was fueled by love.

Dear Maud, I don’t care for reader count nor a higher page rank. I started this blog because I loved Anne Shirley and the world of Avonlea you’ve created. Anne of Green Gables was the first book that taught me to nurture the spirit of storytelling, imagination, and fancy. I just want to pay tribute to that and hopefully, share the joy.

Thanks to you and your books, I discovered that there could be a place in the world for a kid with a short temper, a loud mouth and a love for daydreaming. Thanks to you, becoming a writer became a very viable option for what to do with the rest of my life. And most of all, you have articulated for me feelings and thoughts I had about friendship, belonging-ness, and melancholy that I didn’t know how to express when I was a kid.

In short, all I want to say is that I am really grateful that you lived and that you wrote the Anne of Green Gables series. I am just one of the many girls whose hearts you’ve touched with your writing. I hope, with all my heart, you are at peace.

From a member of the race that knows Joseph,                                                                 Ilia

Anne Shirley and orphans in fiction

*Note: I started writing this post as an attempt to capture my observation of the role of orphans in stories, I didn’t mean it to be this serious. Apologies for the sort of “academic” tone.

There have been numerous orphan protagonists in various works of literature. Besides Anne Shirley, we have Cinderella, Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist, Harry Potter, the Baudelaire siblings, Dorothy Gale, Mary Lennox, Heidi, Huckleberry Finn, and Tarzan among others. Before I started writing and researching for this post, I never imagined there were that many fictional orphans. Why are orphans and their journeys interesting?

Caroline Myss writes of the archetype of the orphan child:

The Orphan Child is the major character in most well known children’s stories, including Little Orphan Annie, the Matchstick Girl, Bambi, the Little Mermaid, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Cinderella, and many more. The pattern in these stories is reflected in the lives of people who feel from birth as if they are not a part of their family, including the family psyche or tribal spirit. Yet precisely because orphans are not allowed into the family circle, they have to develop independence early in life. (Source)

In elementary school, we are taught that family is the basic unit of society. Orphans are defined as having lost one or both parents — rendering them without that basic form of community most of us possess at birth. Family is a child’s first source of belongingness and identity. Orphans, then, are the outsiders of society, left to make their own connections and circles in the world. In stories about orphans, our fears of being abandoned and left alone are drawn out.

While the lack of a family most often causes abandonment and neglect, orphans are in a special position to create their own identity and eventual “destiny.” As kids, we begin building our identities and our possible futures based on the lives of our parents and the opportunities available to them. Orphans like Anne Shirley can develop traits like imagination, sensitivity, resourcefulness, and survival skills earlier than most children would have, if they even ever did.  Continue reading