Slow-Read Sunday: The Secret Garden (to CH. XXII)

We’ve previously discussed The Secret Gardento Chapter VIIto Chapter XIV; and to Chapter XVII.

Today we’ll discuss The Secret Garden to Chapter XXII. Some of the most beautiful language in the novel appears in this chunk. At times, today, I’ll highlight some of that language by merely setting out the quote for reflection. I think some of that highlighted language answers the questions we’ve posed to this point in the novel.

1. What does Mary mean when she says what ails Colin is hysterics and temper?

Mary uses the word hysterics to describe Colin’s fits. Does she come up with that on her own or has she picked it up from someone?

2. “The boy is half insane with hysteria and self-indulgence.” p. 191

Dr. Craven comes to see Colin after he has his tantrum. His official diagnosis seems less concerned with medicine, more a mental assessment. Dr. Craven wants Colin to remember his illness and be mindful of its restrictions at all times. Colin would rather forget his illness and put it out of his mind completely. p. 194. What advice would you give Colin?

3. What is the source of Dickon’s magical powers?

Mary believes there’s a certain magic about Dickon. p. 207. If she’s right, where do the powers come from?

4. Mary introduces Colin to the garden.

Mary introduces Colin to the garden by walking him through and explaining how she first gained access. You can feel the excitement pouring off these pages. p. 213. By the time they enter the garden, Colin is convinced he will get well and”live forever and ever.” This language mirrors the way Dickon feels when he lies on the ground in the moor and breathes in the air. Have you ever felt that way? What were the circumstances? Can you recreate them at will?

5. “One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever.” p. 213.

6. Why do Mary, Dickon, and Colin all whisper in the garden?

Colin gets instructed “as to the law of whispers and low voices” before entering the garden. p. 217. Once in, he likes the “mysteriousness” of whispering. What do you make of the rule? There are other places where we must whisper at all times, like Churches and Libraries. Did either of them come to mind when you heard this rule?

7. “I’ve seen the spring now and I’m going to see the summer. I’m going to see everything grow here. I’m going to grow here myself.” p. 221.

Next time we’ll finish discussing the novel.

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