Nature, especially its beauty, is closely tied to Anne’s development in Anne of Green Gables. When Anne first comes to Green Gables as an eleven-year-old child, she has been sorely deprived of natural beauty; to her, Green Gables is her imagination come true, and Anne, like the countryside, bursts with life. Anne spends many hours outdoors, where her imagination is wild and untamed.
Marilla teaches her to moderate her imagination much in the same way that a flower must be cut back to keep it healthy, or a meadow must be mowed to ensure it will remain thick with grass. When Anne forgets to come home on time or do her chores properly, Marilla reprimands her. When Anne fancies ghosts in the trees, Marilla makes her walk among the avenue at night to see that they are nothing but trees.Miss Stacy and Mrs. Allan, too, teach Anne to regulate her thoughts and expressions.
When Anne almost drowns in a sinking boat, she realizes that it is time to give up her childish, romantic view of nature. As she tells Marilla before she sets out for Queen’s College, “‘I’m not a bit changed—not really. I’m only just pruned down and branched out. The real me—back here—is just the same.’”
Once she studies to enter Queen’s College, Anne relies on nature to refresh her, to tie her to home, to be her touchstone for all that is important and good in her life, but it no longer overwhelms her. When she loses Matthew and makes the choice not to attend Redmond College, she still finds herself reflected in the nature she sees out her window: “Anne’s horizon had closed in since the night she had sat there after coming home from Queen’s; but if the path set before her feet was to be narrow she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it.”
The Color White
The color white figures prominently in Anne of Green Gables in relation to innocence and purity of heart. When Anne comes to Green Gables as a child, the landscape is awash in white blossoms from the orchards and the fields, and Anne immediately identifies with a cherry tree that is laden with snowy blossoms right outside her bedroom window. White signifies a fresh start for Anne, but it also reflects on Anne herself, whose little white face opens like a flower, so ready to trust and love someone—and be loved. She is innocent, and even as she grows older, she retains her true, good heart. This heart shines through at the White Sands Hotel recital, in which Anne is dressed in white with a single white flower in her hair. She worries that she appears like a simple country bumpkin, but it is her simple attire and her heartfelt recitation that makes her stand out among more fashionable, sophisticated people.