Dr. Trent’s letter was like himself—blunt, abrupt, concise, wasting no words.
How would you have felt if you received Valancy’s diagnosis? What would you have done?
I have a two-part answer to this. When I was younger and I read this, I completely agreed with her. I was so glad she finally found something to make her get a bit more spine and stand up to the unfairness that her family brought into her life. It was a good empowerment and I would hope if I was downtrodden as she, I would have felt empowered instead of despondent.
Part 2: It wasn't until I was re-reading a few of my favorite parts of this book after I finished undergraduate school that I thought it ironic I had some connections to Valancy. One being my heart. But we had opposite results in that my doctor couldn't really find exactly what was wrong, and said to just go on living my life. Knowing how scary the unknown was, it was such a relief to know I could go about my life and just ignore the occasional pain. I laughed when I read that Valancy, too, learned to just endure the pain. Sometimes it was a bit harder than other times, yet she still endured it. I have seen a strong correlation with life. So, in a way, my reaction (though our diagnosis was different...at least, her first diagnosis...) was the same. I felt empowered and went at life with an even greater joy and determination to make it wonderful. Of course, I didn't go propose to any guys, but I've still made a pretty great life for myself in the last few years. There are times I don't even notice the pain!
“Will I do?” said Valancy.
With your personal morals and values, would you have done all of the “scandalous things” that Valancy chooses to do?
Actually, I don't think I would have. At least, not the Roaring Abel part. I mean, I probably would have wanted to help Cissy. But to live in the home of a drunk, who is known for his tantrums. Having read the book, I know now that Roaring Abel was mostly harmless and at least she had Cissy to endure a couple of the tougher times. But not knowing that ahead of time? I don't think I would have had the courage, and I think my prudish nature would have intervened.
And proposing to Barney? Again, hindsight of reading the whole book has me saying "Ab-so-lute-ly!" But if I didn't know that, I don't think I could. Having to trust the unknown, disreputable mysteries? What could be completely against my morals and standards? No wanting to make a great life of what's left of it could make me compromise my standards. Or even marry someone I knew did not love me. That would be so hard, knowing my personality and my desire to feel truly loved. Of course, Montgomery makes sure to put in that deep down Valancy doesn't feel Barney could have done those things. But I would want to be sure. I guess that's one difference of being LDS--it throws risky spontaneous adventure and romance to the wind for me. On a slightly different note, I can't help but thinking of Anne with wanting someone who is good but who could be bad. No, no. I want good all the way through. I'm a Molly like that.