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"Averil's Atonement"

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"I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk-cabbage."
This article is about the short story written by Anne Shirley. You may be looking for "Averil's Atonement", the 100th episode of Green Gables Fables (2014–2015).
"Averil's Atonement"
Short story information
Author

Anne Shirley

Published in
  • The Rollings Reliable Baking Powder Company (pamphlets)
  • several prominent Canadian newspapers
Publication date
  • summer 1884 (written)
  • August 1884 (published with alterations from Diana)
Diana: "It's a perfectly elegant story, Anne, and will make you famous, of that I'm sure. Have you got a title for it?"
Anne: "Oh, I decided on the title long ago. I call it Averil's Atonement. Doesn't that sound nice and alliterative?"
Diana and Anne discussing "Averil's Atonement"[src]

"Averil's Atonement" was a short story written by Anne Shirley. Upon writing it, Anne sent it to "the very biggest of the 'big' magazines", but it wasn't accepted. Heeding some advice Mr Harrison gave her upon critiquing her story, she 'cut out' her flowery description of a sunset and sent the edited story to the Canadian Woman, another magazine, but it was again rejected. Anne hence claimed, 'This is the end of my literary ambitions', and decided to never write a story again. She put "Averil's Atonement" away in a trunk with her old Story Club tales, a trunk which she opened a few years later and read the contents of, along with Stella Maynard.

However, Anne had given Diana Barry a copy of "Averil's Atonement". Seeing the offer of a twenty-five dollar prize for a competition by the Rollings Reliable Baking Powder Company, Diana altered Anne's story to include mentions of baking powder and submitted it to the competition under Anne's name. It won the prize, and though touched by Diana's gesture, Anne felt humiliated by winning such a degrading honour, and spent the prize money on clothes that she hated every time she wore.

Plot

Although the plot of the story was never explicitly related, the story seems to function as a sort of fairy tale.

Characters

  • Averil Lester (the heroine)
  • Perceval Dalrymple (Averil's love interest)
  • Maurice Lennox (the villain)
  • Robert "Bobby" Ray (the hired boy who lives with the Lesters)

Critical responses

From Diana Barry

Diana: "Why did you kill Maurice Lennox?"
Anne: "He was the villain—He had to be punished."
Diana: "I like him best of them all."
Anne: "Well, he's dead, and he'll have to stay dead. If I had let him live he'd have gone on persecuting Averil and Perceval."
Diana: "Yes—unless you had reformed him."
Anne: "That wouldn't have been romantic, and, besides, it would have made the story too long."
―Diana expressing her views on Anne's story[src]

Diana Barry was the first person Anne showed her story to. She liked the story overall, but both she and Mr Harrison preferred the villain, Maurice Lennox, to the man the heroine ended up marrying: Perceval Dalrymple.

From James A. Harrison

"Your story isn't bad—it's kind of interesting, I'll admit. But you're too young to write a story that would be worth while. Wait ten years."
—Mr Harrison to Anne after reading her story[src]

James A. Harrison found Anne's story 'kind of interesting', but did not think it was worthwhile reading. He, like Diana, preferred the villain to the hero, finding the hero 'too good' and saying that he didn't have 'a spice of human nature' in him.

Behind the scenes

  • Robert Ray, the hired boy who lives with the Lesters, was the only character Anne allowed Diana to name. Diana originally wanted to call him Raymond Fitzobourne, but Anne declared that was too aristocratic a name, and hence he was called Robert Ray.

Appearances

Book appearances

Film appearances

TV series appearances

See also

External links

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