Posted by: jeannineatkins | December 1, 2008

Walls and Secrets in a Garden

Some students preferred The Little Princess, but many loved The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. A few found Mary Lennox too nasty, but more were willing to overlook her selfishness, given her background, and were smitten with the story of children who start with a secret, which, Catherine pointed out, always has power, available to the loneliest and poorest, then share the secret behind the ivy-cover wall. Among rose brambles that look thorny and dead, they find what is living, green, or wick and help it spread. They made a new home in the garden, where there’s some kind of mother. The secret garden was created and first cherished by Colin’s mother, and her spirit is still there, especially for these two bereft children who long for a mother.

Emilie illustrated some themes (I’m sorry I cut off one of the silhouettes/ghosts framing orphaned Mary):

The novel has its flaws. Colin and Martha’s mother, Mrs. Sowerby, is indeed a perfect sort of mother, but how realistic is it that a mother of twelve be so calm and wise? Maybe that doesn’t matter. She watches the robin family and thinks hey, maybe it’s not a piece of cake to be mother to twelve, but at least her offspring don’t have wings. Now there’s a worry.

Some suggested better endings. Nahwah’s map of the plot (below) unfans to a long view of growth, but I kept the ending, even though hers is revised, out of sight in interest on non-spoilers. I’ll leave it that many of us voted Najwah’s version as more satisfying.



  1. Some of the most calm women I know are mothers of many, many children–not sure if its necessity or inclination! I’m pretty sure lack of calm is one of the big reasons I stopped at one. 🙂
    I’m going to have to look at the ending of SG again–I don’t know that I’ve ever found it unsatisfying. Other than the fact that the book ended.

  2. Interesting theory. Or after say half a dozen children, your hormones change and you move into total go-with-the-flow?
    Some find the ending puts a bit too much emphasis on Colin, at the expense of Mary; others find it absolutely all right. We watched the end of the movie some grew up with, and Mary gets one line that rights the balance of justice and helps us forgive Colin’s father for his absence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: