"You'd find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair... People who haven't red hair don't know what trouble is."
- Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
After my daughter Teagan and I finished reading Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery —the longest and most challenging novel we ever tackled— we celebrated our literary feat by watching the CBC TV adaptation starring Megan Follows.
I remember having watched that production with my mother when it first aired on television in December of 1985. We had sat together stringing beads into Christmas garlands while giggling about Anne’s misadventures, especially those revolving around her “carrot” hair. It should be no surprise that I got emotional watching Anne with my daughter, nearly thirty years later. If my ten-year-old self had known she would one day have a beautiful, red-haired girl who’d be a dead ringer for Anne, she’d have been thrilled.
I was curious about Teagan’s reaction to red hair being Anne’s “lifelong sorrow.”
“So, Teagan, like Anne Shirley, you’re a redhead. Can you relate to Anne’s trouble accepting her red hair?”
“No. I love my red hair. Maybe a hundred years ago, girls with red hair weren’t [considered] lucky. They are today. People are always telling me I’ve got pretty hair.”
“Do you think that, maybe, there was something more to Anne not liking her hair?”
When Teagan looked at me with a furrowed brow, I explained that Anne’s dislike of her hair is strongest at the start of the novel. It helps reveal her negative self-image.
“That makes sense,” Teagan said. “She was rejected by everyone in the beginning. After her parents died, no one wanted her. She felt bad when nobody loved her.”
“It must be difficult to love yourself when you don’t feel loved,” I said.
Anne needs to find a reason for being cast aside. It’s easy for her to blame her temper and bad behavior on the striking hair that makes her different from other girls. Still, the longer she lives at Green Gables, the more she accepts herself and her red hair.
“Why do you think Anne learns to embrace her hair, in the end?”
“She finds love. Marilla and Matthew love her like a daughter. Diana Barry becomes her bosom friend.”
“Are you saying that by letting others love her, she learns to love herself too?”
“It’s a great story about learning to love yourself, isn’t it?”
“Remember when Anne tries to dye her hair black? Would you ever dye your hair another colour?”
Teagan wrinkled her nose and said, “No way! Three things make me stand out: having red hair, having blue eyes, and being left-handed. I love being special.”
Apparently, my daughter has just the right amount of moxie. Anne Shirley would approve, don’t you think?
Once upon a time, Carole Besharah catalogued picture books as a library technician in primary schools. With a B.A. and a lifetime of reading under her belt, she now writes children’s stories of her own. Carole lives at the foot of the enchanted Gatineau Hills with her husband and their two children.
Twitter | My Book Review Blog | Another website I follow: A Mighty Girl