Anne of Green Gables Vs. Donald Trump: A Tale of Two Borders by Miriam Sagan

I crossed the border this week—the northern border, on what now appears to be our annual pilgrimage to Canada and a break (at least imaginatively ) from Trumplandia. And I’ve been in Anne of Green Gables country—Prince Edward Island. We just visited the birth place of her author and creator—Lucy Maud Montgomery—and saw the homestead where Montgomery wrote and the cemetery where she is buried. It looks much the way I imagined—gentle low lying country, many views marked by the meeting of sky and sea. Green fields dotted with cows and little churches.The Atlantic.

I got a note from my friend Ana, distraught as I and so many others are, over the immigration crisis on the southern border. Ana said she was re-reading Nora Ephron’s “Heartburn” in an effort to keep cheerful. Ana and I share a great love of literature, and a belief in its healing power. A story need not apply to the details of our situation to help us—it is the human spirit which prevails.
I read Anne of Green Gables—the entire series—as an adult, during a time of crisis. It was passed on to me by another writer who was in a different kind of crisis, brought on by the dark material she was working on. “I think this will help,” she said, and left the first volume on my porch. It did.
As women, we need our heroines, who may sometimes be feisty girls. The “feminine”—or social construct of the female—can so often be degraded and victimized. As a reader, I’ve spent a lifetime looking for the antidote. Anne—a displaced orphan, classically enough—is determined to survive. Her survival isn’t just personal—it is also deeply social. I could feel that sense of community immediately on PEI. Nothing is perfect, and I’m sure Canada isn’t, but it is a relief compared to the USA where even ordinary neighborliness seems beyond our reach.
Anne is now on Netflix—it seems like the perfect time to watch. The opening scene has Anne quoting from “Jane Eyre”—a book whose moral core has helped anyone who has cracked its covers. My gratitude to women writers is boundless, and today I want to thank the Canadian ones, from Montgomery to Atwood.

4 thoughts on “Anne of Green Gables Vs. Donald Trump: A Tale of Two Borders by Miriam Sagan

  1. Thanks for this. I love Anne! I’ve been off FB for about 3 months in hopes it would slow things down but I find Twitter just as or even more political. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s learning how to have healthy boundaries between care/self care and complete overload (helplessness). After 4 days of constant pain moving from one part of the body to another, in my bones no less, it occurred to me, “maybe my bodhisattva vow is working overtime and behind the scenes, taking on the suffering of the world?” Lots of nature, epsom salts baths and rest.

    Lastly, I found a new heroine, a french feminist theorist, Helene Cixous. Don’t know if I’ll be able to read her work but this quote I came across while rereading “When Women Were Birds” by Terry T. Williams moved me deeply; “We must learn to speak the language women speak when there is no one there to correct us.”

    I have to constantly remind myself of the importance of reaching out and connecting with my sisters.

  2. I read all the Green Gables books some years ago. I’ve just listened to audio versions all of the Green Gables books. While in the midst, a friend who is Canadian though has lived in England a great number of years, wrote to me that she was in Canada and had just been to PEI. And now I read your blog. Zeigeist. In strange times. In crisis here in the UK and in the US. In such times, do we turn back, to what keeps us stable, to some core that knows instinctively what is right and what is wrong, no matter the whirlwind of hype and spin in which we live?

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