Thursday, November 8, 2012

Learning to Love Learning in Jane of Lantern Hill

(Drawing by N.)
In the comments on my post on architecture in children's books, Melissa Wiley mentioned Jane of Lantern Hill, one of the few novels by L.M. Montgomery that I'd never read, so I indulged and read it practically in one sitting recently.  Of course I love it, and it is indeed centrally concerned with the architecture of "home."  I was also struck by the description of how Jane's father uses narrative to make learning appealing for the emotionally abused heroine for whom school had been simply another venue for humiliation and failure.

Jane had been forced to read the Bible aloud to her grandmother and consequently hated it; in contrast her father (with whom she has recently reunited) reads the Bible aloud with deep feeling and love for its language.  As Jane engages with the Bible freely and experiences her dad's fascinating observations about it, she comes to love it. 
"When dad had converted her to the Bible, he set about making history and geography come alive for her.  She had told him she always found those subjects hard.  But soon history no longer seemed a clutter of fates and names in some dim, cold antiquity but became a storied road of time when dad told her old tales of wonder and the pride of kings.  When he told the simplest incident with the sound of the sea in his voice, it seemed to take on such a colouring of romance and mystery that Jane knew she could never forget it.  Thebes... Babylon... Tyre... Athens... Galilee... were places where real folks lived... folks she knew.  And, knowing them, it was easy to be interested in everything pertaining to them.  Geography, which had once meant merely a map of the world, was just as fascinating."
 Such a moving account of Jane's intellectual awakening!  This poor girl who has had almost no friends and almost no love blossoms when, after she has made friends and felt love, she discovers that learning is yet another form of friendship  -- with her father, with the people of the past.

2 comments:

Megan D. Neal said...

This is one of the few books Montgomery books I haven't read. I remember it being one of my younger sister's favorites though.

I'm in awe of N.'s drawing. He has some serious skills with his architectural drawings (and his train drawings).

Fanny Harville said...

I'd say "thanks" to your compliment of N's drawing, but I can't claim any credit for it, other than giving him time and space to draw! It's one of those many moments in parenting when I look at my child and marvel at his complete "him-ness" -- neither Tim nor I can draw.