You thought I forgot about Rilla, didn't you?

Some thoughts from chapters 4-6:

His thoughts were full of this Great Game which was to be played out on blood-stained fields with empires for stakes-- a Game in which womenkind could have no part. Women, thought Rilla miserably, just had to sit and cry at home. But all this was foolishness.

There's an interesting doubleness about that last sentence, no? Rilla thinks the boys' going to war is foolishness, but the true foolishness is her idea that women on the homefront have only to sit and cry. It seems to me some of the program of maturation is being laid out for her here.

Ah, thought Rilla sadly, how trivial and absurd such a cause of tears now appeared to her. She could cry now with a right good will-- but she would not-- she must not.

This is one of the first points of maturation for Rilla; the exigencies of supporting family members she loves draws her into the practice of unselfishness, at least where keeping her composure is concerned. Yay, filial piety! If you've got that much to begin with, other virtues will almost surely follow. Looky here:

...and Rilla was glad to be made the confidante of his struggles-- to sympathize with and encourage him. She was of importance to somebody.

The self-centered desire to be "of importance" is being supplanted by her desire to comfort and strengthen Walter. Love is making her less selfish.

Of course, she is still Anne's daughter:

Rilla, after the first shock, reacted to the romance of it all, in spite of her heartache. Jem certainly looked magnificent in his uniform. It was splendid to think of the lads of Canada answering so speedily and fearlessly and uncalculatingly to the call of their country.


"But mother-- I've never done anything like that."
"We will all have to do a great many things in the months ahead of us that we have never done before, Rilla."
"Well"-- Rilla took the plunge--"I'll try, mother-- if you'll tell me how to begin. I have been thinkign it over and I have decided that must be as brave and heroic and unselfish as I can possibly be."

She is still in large part responding to the "romance" of it all, but in some senses it is her very love of "romance" that is drawing her into the practice of virtue. In this sense Anne and Gilbert have done their daughter a great service by teaching her to find courage, heroism and unselfishness attractive and romantic-- so attractive and romantic that she is willing to undertake the actual quotidian hardships that go into the real cultivation of those traits.

There's another quote from these chapters I'd like to discuss, but I'm putting it in a separate post.



Mary-LUE said...

This will be brief because I'm about to turn into a Lenten pumpkin again for the week.

It has been a few weeks since I read the chapters, but as you describe the beginnings of Rilla's maturation, I remember thinking something along the same lines. She is getting glimpses of who she is going to be but she does not understand the heartache that will truly bring her to that place yet.

I see this process for Rilla as a kind of pruning that is taking place.

Well, I hope to come back and read more next Sunday. I am curious to see what others have to say.

Bea said...

It's kind of a forgotten virtue, the ideal of not displaying emotions that will be inconvenient to those who live with you. And for good reason, of course - the Victorians were a bit crazy with it, all full of praise for grieving, jilted daughters who are uniformly cheerful so as not to cause a moment's embarrassment to their mostly oblivious fathers. But this is the first step for Rilla: trading teenage emotional self-indulgence for a determination not to allow her sadness to weigh down the people she lives with.

Kathleen Marie said...

Very perceptive... I look forward to reading more. Just remember that when teens hit the age of 13-14, aliens kidnap them and bring down others to take their place, until the reach between 18-21. It's true, honestly.

Beck said...

Do you know that as Canadian as I am, I have NEVER read the Rilla books? I don't think I've read more than two of the Anne books, either.
Hm. My education has been lacking.