WHAT IS CLASSIC REMARKS?
Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.
HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE?
Leave your link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. And feel free to comment with your thoughts even if you are not officially participating with a full post!
(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)
THIS WEEK’S PROMPT:
If you could change the ending of one classic book, what would it be and why?
Spoilers for the end of Anne of Green Gables!
Anne of Green Gables is one of my very, very favorite books, and I generally think it’s perfection. I’ve read it at least 20 times, and each time I think it was better than the last.
So why would I change something about the ending? If you’ve read the book, you’ve probably guess: I would stop Matthew from dying!
Matthew is really a shining star of a character. He’s quiet and incredibly awkward around women, but that makes his staunch support of Anne and her imagination and her talkative nature all the more heartwarming. I love seeing Marilla gently chide him for “encouraging” Anne by listening to her ridiculous stories. I love his faith in Anne, and how he knows she’s smart and an excellent student. I love when he gathers up his courage to finally get Anne a more stylish dress (and his painfully awkward scene at the store trying to order the materials, only to end up leaving with an absurd amount of brown sugar is one of my favorite in the book!).
Matthew, basically, is just what Anne needs. Or what she needs to balance out Marilla, who has stricter ideas about how to raise a child (and she’s right some of the time if not all of the time). You can tell how much Matthew loves Anne and how much she loves Matthew, so when he dies at the end of the book, it’s simply heartbreaking. I want to keep him around!
And L. M. Montgomery is on my side here. I think she and I both recognize that he had to die at some point. That just kind of feels right to the story, and the heartbreak is something that does add to the book, even while it saddens readers. But Montgomery implies she would have at least delayed his death (I believe if she’d known how well the book would sell and that she’d have the chance to write Anne a whole series):
“Many people have told me that they regretted Matthew’s death in Green Gables. I regret it myself,” wrote Lucy Maud Montgomery in her autobiography, The Alpine Path. “If I had the book to write over again, I would spare Matthew for several years. But when I wrote it, I thought he must die, that there might be a necessity for self-sacrifice on Anne’s part, so poor Matthew joined the long procession of ghosts that haunt my literary past.”anneofgreengables.com
So, yes, I would love to seen an end of Anne of Green Gables where Matthew gets several more happy years to watch Anne grow up.