“We’re in a new world,” Jem says, “and we’ve got to make it a better one than the old. That isn’t done yet, though some folks seem to think it ought to be. The job isn’t finished – it isn’t really begun. The old world is destroyed and we must build up the new one. It will be the task of years. I’ve seen enough of war to realize that we’ve got to make a world where wars can’t happen. … It isn’t enough to drive out the old spirit – we’ve got to bring in the new.”
“I’m writing down those words of Jem’s in my diary so that I can read them over occasionally and get courage from them, when moods come when I find it not so easy to ‘keep faith.'”
I was kept awake most of last night with insomnia again. I have conjectured that my sleeplessness has been inflicted so as to make me finish reading the last of the Green Gables books – Rilla of Ingleside – which is about the years of the Great War – to coincide with Remembrance Day. Had I not stopped reading this morning to watch the ceremony at the Cenotaph in London, I think I might have been reading the last sentence as the clock struck the eleventh hour!
The book has brought me closer to memories of my grandfather, whose brother was killed in action in Northern France only a month before the end of hostilities. Perhaps there is more than that, because I remembered with a little shock, that Edwin Shanks is commemorated in a Canadian war cemetery at Vis-en-Artois in Northern France and Green Gables is set in Canada – Prince Edward Island – and the final book is about the islanders’ experience of those war years. Uncanny indeed.
The extract above is from the end of Rilla, in the months after Armistice when the boys and men were returning home. I think this bit is worth repeating:
“I’ve seen enough of war to realize that we’ve got to make a world where wars can’t happen. … It isn’t enough to drive out the old spirit – we’ve got to bring in the new.”
- NaBloPoMo VIII: Rilla of Ingleside (annisik51.wordpress.com)
- A Shout Out to All the NaBloPoMo Writers Out There (anotherchanceranch.net)
- NaBloPoMo | Childhood Cartoons (maryhess.com)
- NaBloPoMo; The Art of Self (bubblemomentpages.wordpress.com)