Friday, June 26, 2009

Anne and Katherine

So I have been reading "Anne of Windy Willows" in the toilet.

Classics have many hidden truths that you discover when you re-read it. This morning I realized that Anne and Katherine are actually like mirror images. Both were orphans. Anne found a home full of love at Green Gables, whereas Katherine (spelt with a K) found that all these people who took care of her did not really want her or love her.

Anne invites Katherine over to Green Gables, despite her doubts, where the two souls finally come closer.

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Somehow, it seemed impossible to think of Katherine crying. But she was. And her tears suddenly humanized her. Anne no longer felt afraid of her.
"Katherine . . . dear Katherine . . . what is the matter? Can I help?"
"Oh . . . you can't understand!" gasped Katherine. "Things have always been made easy for you. You . . . you seem to live in a little enchanted circle of beauty and romance. 'I wonder what delightful discovery I'll make today' . . . that seems to be your attitude to life, Anne. As for me, I've forgotten how to live . . . no, I never knew how. I'm . . . I'm like a creature caught in a trap. I can never get out . . . and it seems to me that somebody is always poking sticks at me through the bars. And you . . . you have more happiness than you know what to do with . . . friends everywhere, a lover! Not that I want a lover . . . I hate men . . . but if I died tonight, not one living soul would miss me. How would you like to be absolutely friendless in the world?"
Katherine's voice broke in another sob.
"Katherine, you say you like frankness. I'm going to be frank. If you are as friendless as you say, it is your own fault. I've wanted to be friends with you. But you've been all prickles and stings."
"Oh, I know . . . I know. How I hated you when you came first! Flaunting your circlet of pearls . . ."
"Katherine, I didn't 'flaunt' it!"
"Oh, I suppose not. That's just my natural hatefulness. But it seemed to flaunt itself . . . not that I envied you your beau . . . I've never wanted to be married . . . I saw enough of that with father and mother . . . but I hated your being over me when you were younger than I . . . I was glad when the Pringles made trouble for you. You seemed to have everything I hadn't . . . charm . . . friendship . . . youth. Youth! I never had anything but starved youth. You know nothing about it. You don't know . . . you haven't the least idea what it is like not to be wanted by any one . . . any one!"
"Oh, haven't I?" cried Anne.
In a few poignant sentences she sketched her childhood before coming to Green Gables.
"I wish I'd known that," said Katherine. "It would have made a difference. To me you seemed one of the favorites of fortune. I've been eating my heart out with envy of you.

(From L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Windy Willows).

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Anne could have been Katherine, and Katherine could have been Anne, if fortune and misfortune have mixed with each other.

It is the feeling of the contingent that makes the episode between Anne and Katherine one of the most memorable in the whole novel.

3 comments:

JAR said...

Then it would be natural to assume that perhaps perception of one's environment and personality equally feed off of each other to shape one's state of mind, and thus one's life experiences. I think it would be safe to assume that Anne and Katherine both perceive what is hardship and what is not, but why did Anne not need, like Katherine, external information to reassure her that she is not the only one experiencing hardship. That difference in need has to arise from personality (a trait of some sort of internal innate knowing despite external stimuli).

(ma)gog said...

It is true that we often make new discoveries when we re-read classics, especially when you read them after quite a long period of time. In old days, I couldn't distinguish myself from Anne, I was looking around the world through her eyes, thinking like her, a true desparate Anne Shirly freak! I could say that I was "poisoned" completely, if I can borrow Takaaki Yoshimoto's words.
And now after more than three decades, I just enjoy re-reading Anne books again from the new point of Obasan view.

Anonymous said...

thank you for your invitation Dr Mogi. - - i have found many embedded things in it just like in these mornings.
In addition, I am so happy because it may be time for me to say good bye to Muraoka’s books and say hello to the original version, m^^