Chapter 7 Summary
Now that the Cuthberts have decided to keep Anne, Marilla begins what she sees as the moral education of the young girl. This night, Marilla takes Anne to bed and insists that the child say her prayers. Anne responds by stating that she has never prayed before. This startles Marilla. She asks if Anne knows who God is, and Anne repeats the standard answer she has memorized from the little religious education she has received. Although Anne responds without much animation in her voice, Marilla is at least thankful that she does not have a “heathen” living in her house. When pressed further to describe God, Anne uses words such as “infinite, eternal and unchangeable.” However, Anne is more impressed with the sound and the immensity implied in these words than she is with the concept of God.
To make Anne want to say her prayers every night, Marilla suggests that children who do not pray are considered to be “bad.” Anne is not impressed. She answers that when a child has red hair it comes fairly easy to be bad. One of Anne’s former caretakers had once told her that God gave her red hair on purpose, implying that red hair signified something negative and was a punishment. Anne tells Marilla that after she was told this, she decided she did not like God.
Marilla has had enough of Anne’s chatter. She tells Anne that she must say her prayers regardless of any of her past experiences. Anne agrees to do this; she says she will do anything Marilla wants her to do. However, Anne does not know what to say in a prayer, so Marilla will have to teach her. Marilla is about to teach Anne the child’s prayer that begins with the words “Now I lay me down to sleep,” but she hesitates. That prayer is for very young and very innocent children—but this does not describe Anne. Instead Marilla tells Anne she can say anything she wants as long as she keeps in mind the purpose of prayer, which is to thank God for all her blessings and then ask for things she desires. Anne proceeds to thank God for the landscape that presently encircles her at Green Gables. When she comes to the things she wants, Anne says the list is too long for one prayer. She mentions only the first two things on her list, which is to stay at Green Gables and to please let her be pretty when she grows up.
Later when Marilla finds Matthew in the kitchen, she tells him that she will have her hands full in training and educating Anne. She then states that her life has been easy up to this point; with Anne’s having come into her life, Marilla will pay back for all the benefits she has received in the past.