Walter Blythe

I always wondered if L M Montgomery suddenly decided to kill of Walter because it would make the book more realistic or if she had been planning it since his creation. I recently was rereading Anne of Ingleside and decided that it had been a planned thing, I almost wish that it hadn't because it is so much nicer to believe that it was just a mistake and that he could really come back from the dead; alas it was not to be. But I really wonder why she killed Walter, I almost wish that she had killed Shirley instead. That makes more sense to me because Shirley was really underdeveloped by L M Montgomery he isn't really overly mentioned and Walter was very well developed. I also think that later in the books Diana and Nan also become less mentioned and ignored. That is why I like the fanfictions because they finish the unfinished.

Also on another thought, I've heard it said that L M Montgomery was really pushing her luck and the timeline for Anne's sons to fight in WWI, and I was wondering what you all thought of this. Time is slightly defined in the earlier books because they have telephones but mainly because of the poetry that Anne quotes. She quotes Tennyson a lot and in Anne's House of Dreams she quotes his poem Crossing the Bar for Captian Jim but Tennyson lived from 1809-1892, and I think that the House of Dreams is supposed to be in the 1890s according to a timeline I saw so I really wonder how popular Tennyson was when he first came out. Gilbert also quotes Lewis Carroll in Anne of Ingleside 1852-1898 and certainly his works had already been published so I am not quite sure if it was much of a push to make for the time frame. Obviously by Anne of Ingleside she had decided what the time frame was to be so I don't think that are any major historic mistakes going on. There are only two other things that I can think of that would help tell time one being the mention of the telephone and the other being the mention of the bathroom. Fashion would be a good indicator of time but I never found any good description of Anne's clothes before Anne of Ingleside besides she was wearing a blue muslin dress or something. The telephone was invented in the 1870s so that could be completely plausible and indoor plumbing also became pretty popular in the mid 1800s so I am not sure where people are finding the big stretch. Do you guys think that it was a stretch to have Anne's sons go to WWI?
4 Responses
  1. Anne of Ingleside was written after Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside. Actually so was Anne of Windy Poplars. That is one of the reasons they aren't always considered as good as the others. Maude wrote them because people wanted more of the Blythes, and with the Depression, metally ill husband, etc. she needed the money. Note how the characters of Rebecca Dew and Elizabeth Pringle are only mentioned in those two books.

    Of course she could foreshawdow Walter's death in AoI, it had already been written and published.

    Also, Tennyson was popular all during the mid-1800's. Upon the death of Wordsworth in 1850, he was appointed poet laureate in Great Britain by Queen Victoria.

    In all, I don't think it's a big stretch at all that Anne's sons fought in WWI. I love Rilla of Ingleside so much in my own odd ways because it shows the contrast from the idyllic young adulthood of Anne & Gilbert compared to what their children faced.

    These are good questions and need to be asked. Not everyone looks at the original copyright in books like I do, but there are bibliographies online also.

  2. geeruby Says:

    I think LMM fudged the dates a lot. I read somewhere that AoGG was supposed to be set in the early 1900s but LMM set it earlier in order to write the other books. She didn't intend to write more than the first, you know!

    Also, she wrote Rilla of Ingleside before Anne of Ingleside, so that explains the Walter thing.

  3. I think that Walter's death represents the death of a more innocent world (the Gilded Age) and it was definitely something that LMM had planned. There's a scene at the very end of "The Blythes Are Quoted" in which Anne tells Jem that she's glad Walter didn't come back from the war because he wouldn't have been able to live with his memories. (Someone posted TBAQ on the Internet very briefly before having to delete it due to copyright.) That's one of the reasons that I believe LMM intended for Walter to remain dead. (Nevertheless, I do love good fanfics, like Adrienne's and Una's, that bring him back.)

    As for the stretch of Anne's sons fighting in WWI, I don't think that it's a big deal because it works. Obviously LMM didn't have that in mind when she created the character of Anne because AoGG was published in 1908 and, as Ruby points out, LMM only intended to write the one book at first.

    Una Meredith is very knowledgeable about LMM's life and works, so I'm sure that will have a lot of insight into these questions.

    Ingrid, I agree about some of the characters being underdeveloped and, like you, I enjoy the fanfics that focus on these characters.

  4. Una Meredith Says:

    Wow, thanks, Irish Princess, but I'm not as knowledgeable of LMM as I could be.

    I was the one who mentioned what critics have said about LMM stretching things to make Anne's sons go to WWI. I don't think it is an implausible stretch, but some of the fashions that Anne wore during AoGG like puffed sleeves wouldn't have been in style if AoGG was following the timeline properly. I got this information from The Anne of Green Gables Treasury by Carolyn Collins and Christina Eriksson and sometime later I'll post more extensively about this. Another anachronism is the mention of Ben-Hur, which hadn't been published at the time Anne was reading it in class if LMM's timeline was correct. Going from the dates in RoI, Anne would have arrived at Green Gables in 1877. To give another example of an anachronism in the Anne series, LMM mentions the San Francisco earthquake in AoIng, but that happened in 1906, and AoIng covered 1899-1906, but the earthquake was mentioned near the beginning of the book. It has been pointed out that LMM was not writing historical fiction, and she obviously didn't always pay attention to dates. I think she probably originally intended for AoGG to be set in the time that she was writing, and as adriennelane has already said, she intended for it to be a stand alone novel.

    As for Walter, I agree with what has been stated as LMM's reasons for killing him off, but I like to bring him back 1) because a love him so much (major literary crush here :D) and 2)I think it is more interesting to write about how he coped with the aftermath of the war and I think it was too easy just to kill him off. The readers of my UofR fanfic will be seeing more of how he deals with his memories and the impact of the war on his life. He has not come back unscathed, let me assure you.