Tuesday, April 14, 2020

51. Pollyanna

Pollyanna. Eleanor H. Porter. 1913. 304 pages. [Source: Bought] [children's fiction; orphans; classic]

First sentence: Miss Polly Harrington entered her kitchen a little hurriedly this June morning.

Premise/plot: Pollyanna, our heroine, is an orphan who has come to stay with her aunt, Miss Polly Harrington. Miss Harrington is not exactly great with children; then again she's not exactly a people person either. Her wealth and privilege allow for a certain amount of rudeness, perhaps. But Pollyanna makes friends with everyone. Everyone?! Yes, just about everyone. Will Pollyanna's joyful spirit and grateful attitude melt Aunt Polly's cold, cold heart?!

My thoughts: This was my second time to read Pollyanna. The Glad Game should be required during this Covid 19 pandemic. Pollyanna wouldn't be a bad sort to be stuck in quarantine with, in my opinion.

Did I read it solely because my spirits needed lifting?! Perhaps not. I love, love, love this one and have been meaning to reread it for a couple of years now.

Readers get various examples of the glad game, my particular favorite being the occasion where Nancy learns to appreciate her name and to be glad that it isn't Hephzibah!

"Well, anyhow," she chuckled, "you can be glad it isn't 'Hephzibah.'"
"Hephzibah!"
"Yes. Mrs. White's name is that. Her husband calls her 'Hep,' and she doesn't like it. She says when he calls out 'Hep—Hep!' she feels just as if the next minute he was going to yell 'Hurrah!' And she doesn't like to be hurrahed at."
Nancy's gloomy face relaxed into a broad smile.
"Well, if you don't beat the Dutch! Say, do you know?—I sha'n't never hear 'Nancy' now that I don't think o' that 'Hep—Hep!' and giggle. My, I guess I AM glad—" She stopped short and turned amazed eyes on the little girl. "Say, Miss Pollyanna, do you mean—was you playin' that 'ere game THEN—about my bein' glad I wa'n't named Hephzibah'?"
Pollyanna frowned; then she laughed.
"Why, Nancy, that's so! I WAS playing the game—but that's one of the times I just did it without thinking, I reckon. You see, you DO, lots of times; you get so used to it—looking for something to be glad about, you know. And most generally there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it."
"Well, m-maybe," granted Nancy, with open doubt.
 I did enjoy the character of Pollyanna. I enjoyed her point of view. I loved some of her insights, especially her insights on living...
"Oh, but Aunt Polly, Aunt Polly, you haven't left me any time at all just to—to live."
"To live, child! What do you mean? As if you weren't living all the time!"
"Oh, of course I'd be BREATHING all the time I was doing those things, Aunt Polly, but I wouldn't be living. You breathe all the time you're asleep, but you aren't living. I mean living—doing the things you want to do: playing outdoors, reading (to myself, of course), climbing hills, talking to Mr. Tom in the garden, and Nancy, and finding out all about the houses and the people and everything everywhere all through the perfectly lovely streets I came through yesterday. That's what I call living, Aunt Polly. Just breathing isn't living!"
"Well, as near as I can judge, there are a good many things you 'love' to do—eh?" he added, as they drove briskly away.
Pollyanna laughed.
"Why, I don't know. I reckon perhaps there are," she admitted. "I like to do 'most everything that's LIVING. Of course I don't like the other things very well—sewing, and reading out loud, and all that. But THEY aren't LIVING."
"No? What are they, then?"
"Aunt Polly says they're 'learning to live,'" sighed Pollyanna, with a rueful smile.
The doctor smiled now—a little queerly.
"Does she? Well, I should think she might say—just that."
"Yes," responded Pollyanna. "But I don't see it that way at all. I don't think you have to LEARN how to live. I didn't, anyhow."
The doctor drew a long sigh.
"After all, I'm afraid some of us—do have to, little girl," he said.
School, in some ways, was a surprise to Pollyanna; and Pollyanna, certainly, in many ways, was very much of a surprise to school. They were soon on the best of terms, however, and to her aunt Pollyanna confessed that going to school WAS living, after all—though she had had her doubts before.  
And I did enjoy the moral message of this one:
 “Oh, yes," nodded Pollyanna, emphatically. He [her father] said he felt better right away, that first day he thought to count 'em. He said if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times [in the Bible] to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it - SOME.”


© 2020 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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