Marilla let Anne avoid studies and spend time outside with Diana all summer because the doctor said that Anne needed open air. When September came, Anne was refreshed and eager to return to her studies. As Anne takes her school books down from the attic, she and Marilla discuss why women can’t be ministers and how Anne tries to be a good person but feels tempted to do whatever Mrs. Rachel Lynde tells her not to do.
School begins and all the students in Anne’s class become immediately preoccupied with whether they will pass the entrance exam to Queen’s. Throughout the school year, Anne studies hard, participates in Debating Club concerts, socializes, grows taller, and becomes quieter. Marilla feels a sense of sorrow over losing the young version of Anne, but Matthew says that Anne will visit often once she goes away to Queen’s. In the spring, Marilla asks Anne about her growing quieter and using shorter words. Anne says that she has begun to enjoy keeping thoughts in her head and that Miss Stacy says short words are stronger. Anne also tells Marilla that the story club disbanded some time ago because everyone needed more time for their studies. With only two months until the entrance exam, Anne wishes she could go outside and enjoy nature, but she focuses on studying instead.
In June, the school year ends again. Anne and Diana walk home together and cry over Miss Stacy leaving. Anne will be leaving soon to take the entrance exams, which will be proctored in Charlottetown. Diana’s Aunt Josephine has invited Anne to stay in her house during her trip. Anne promises Diana that she will send her a letter about how the exams go.
Anne’s letter to Diana says that all the students were very worried before the exam. Some didn’t sleep the night before, while others spent all morning cramming. Students from all over the island had come to take the exam. Anne had exams in English and History on her first day and would take the exam in Geometry the next day.
Anne gets through her Geometry exam, and Anne and her classmates return to Avonlea to wait a fortnight for their exam scores. Anne is anxious to get her scores and see whether she beat Gilbert. She also hopes to score high in order to make Marilla and Matthew proud.
One evening, Diana comes to Green Gables with a newspaper and tells Anne that she passed her exams. In fact, Anne tied with Gilbert for first place out of all the students who took the exam. The first person to whom Anne runs to tell is Matthew. Matthew, Marilla, and Mrs. Rachel Lynde all express their pride at how well Anne has done.
Anne and Diana get ready together for a concert at a hotel in Charlottetown. Anne is the only student from the Avonlea school who has been chosen to perform, and Diana instructs her on how to dress and style her hair for the occasion. Marilla comes to Anne’s room and praises Anne as well, though she mixes in criticisms as usual.
A young man named Billy Andrews comes to pick up Anne and Diana. He asks Anne to sit in the front with him since she is so slim and beautiful. Anne finds Billy boring and spends the entire car ride talking to Diana and Jane. When they arrive at the hotel, Anne feels “suddenly shy and frightened and countrified” (p. 339). Anne becomes even more embarrassed when she hears the other performers talking about the “country bumpkins” (p. 339) in the audience.
A professional elocutionist recites wonderfully, and Anne is rapt with attention. When the recitation ends, Anne is seized with panic, thinking her performance will pale in comparison. Anne is called to the stage and develops a terrible case of stage fright. However, when she sees Gilbert Blythe in the crowd, she tells herself that she can’t fail in front of him. She recites so powerfully that she causes the other performers to cry and the audience to call her back for an encore. She does a comical recitation as her encore, which the crowd likes as well.
After the concert, the other performers, including the professional elocutionist, dote on Anne. Anne and her friends are invited to a supper for the performers. After the supper, they return to Billy’s car and drive back to Avonlea. Jane tells Anne that she thinks her recitation was better than the professional’s, and Diana tells Anne that a man in the audience said he would like to paint Anne. The girls spend the rest of the ride arguing about whether they would like to be rich; Anne argues, “I don’t want to be anyone but myself, even if I go uncomforted by diamonds all my life…I’m quite content to be Anne of Green Gables” (p. 344).
Over the next three weeks, Anne prepares to go to Queen’s. Marilla and Matthew make sure that Anne has multiple new dresses, including one of delicate green material that Marilla chooses particularly thoughtfully. When the green dress has been made, Anne puts it on and performs a recitation for Marilla and Matthew. Marilla starts to cry as she thinks about Anne arriving at Green Gables when she was so young and neglected. Marilla says she wishes that Anne had stayed a little girl, and Anne assures her that she is the same as ever. Marilla and Anne hug, and Matthew goes outside to hide his tears.
The day comes for Anne to leave for Queen’s. Anne says tearful goodbyes to Diana and Marilla; Diana proceeds afterward to a beach picnic, while Marilla devotes herself to working all day so that she won’t feel so lonely. On her first day of school, Anne meets the other new students and her professors. Out of all the students from the Avonlea school, only Anne and Gilbert have decided to skip to the second year at Queen’s, meaning they will get their teacher’s license after only one year. Anne is happy that Gilbert is in her class since, without him, she wouldn’t know any of the fifty students. Additionally, she feels that she wouldn’t be comfortable in a school environment without their rivalry. Anne examines the other students and wonders which of them will become her friends.
Anne feels lonesome on her first night in the bedroom she has rented in a boarding-house. She has just started to cry when Josie Pye, a student Anne did not like at the Avonlea school, shows up at her door. Josie Pye speaks somewhat rudely to Anne, and Anne is just thinking that she may have actually preferred solitude when their friends Jane and Ruby show up. Ruby asks Anne whether she is going to try for the gold medal, which is awarded at the end of the year, and Anne says she has been thinking of doing so. Josie announces that there will also be a scholarship to college awarded at the end of the year to whoever gets the highest grades in English. Anne feels a burst of ambition as she imagines herself going to college and making Matthew proud.
Throughout the fall, Anne studies at Queen’s during the week and returns to Avonlea on the weekends. On the return trip to Avonlea, Anne notices that Gilbert always walks with Ruby and carries her bag, and she thinks to herself that it would be nice to be friends with Gilbert. The narrator notes that Anne had many female friendships, but she lacked friendships with males.
At Queen’s, Anne makes new friendships and settles into her studies. In the winter, Anne and the other students from Avonlea stop going back home as frequently. Anne and Gilbert are at the top of the class, along with a few other students, and Anne continues to feel motivated by seeing herself as competing with Gilbert. On Sundays, Anne eats lunch and attends church with Aunt Josephine.
Spring arrives, and soon, the school year will end. The students worry about their end-of-year exams, though Anne is more concerned with whether she will win the medal or the scholarship than whether she will pass.
Anne and Jane walk together to find out the results of their end-of-year exams. As they walk up, Anne hears someone shout that Gilbert won the medal. Anne feels defeated for a moment—until someone sees her and yells, “Three cheers for Miss Shirley, winner of the Avery!” (p. 361). Anne won the scholarship to attend college.
The next day is commencement, and Marilla and Matthew come to see Anne graduate. Anne wears the green dress Marilla gave her and reads an essay for the crowd. Marilla, Matthew, and Aunt Josephine all talk about how proud they are of Anne. After commencement, Anne goes back to Green Gables. Diana is jealous of Anne’s new friends from Queen’s, but Anne assures her that Diana is her dearest friend. Anne tells Diana that she will be going to Redmond College in September, but she will have three months of vacation first. Diana informs Anne that Gilbert is going to become the teacher at the Avonlea school since his family can’t afford to send him to college. Anne is disappointed that she will not have her rivalry with Gilbert to keep her focused at Redmond.
The next morning, Anne notices that Matthew isn’t looking well. After he leaves, she asks Marilla about Matthew’s health; Marilla says that he’s been having issues with his heart but refuses to stop working. Anne asks about Marilla’s health and Marilla says that she’s been having headaches and her eyes have gotten worse. At the end of June, Marilla plans to have her eyes checked. On top of these problems, Marilla tells Anne that the bank where they keep all of their money has been “shaky” (p. 365). Marilla wants Matthew to pull their money out of the bank, but Matthew refuses. The rest of the day is pleasant, but the narrator ends the chapter foreshadowing sorrow soon to come.
One day, Matthew falls down suddenly. Marilla and Anne try to rouse Matthew as their hired man goes to get the doctor. However, Mrs. Rachel Lynde arrives at the house first; after taking Matthew’s pulse, she says he is dead. When the doctor arrives, he confirms that Matthew has died and says it was likely an instantaneous death due to a sudden shock. They discover that the shock was the newspaper, which said that the bank where all of Marilla and Matthew’s money was kept had failed.
Neighbors come to the house all day to grieve Matthew and comfort Marilla and Anne. When night comes, the only ones who remain at the house are Marilla, Anne, the Barrys, and Mrs. Rachel Lynde. Diana offers to sleep with Anne, but Anne says she prefers to be alone so that she can try to realize that Matthew is really gone. Anne has not cried all day, but once she is alone, she thinks of Matthew saying he was proud of her and she begins to weep. Marilla hears Anne weeping and comes in to comfort her. Anne asks what they will do without Matthew, and Marilla responds that they have each other. Additionally, Marilla tells Anne that she loves her as if she were her own flesh and blood.
Matthew’s funeral is held two days later, and after that, Marilla and Anne try to carry on with life at Green Gables. Anne feels ashamed when she begins to find pleasure in things like flowers and visiting with Diana, but Mrs. Allan reassures her that Matthew would like to know that she is enjoying life. When Anne departs from Mrs. Allan’s house, Mrs. Allan tells her that Marilla will be lonely when Anne goes away to college. When Anne gets home, Marilla tells her that she will go to have her eyes checked the next day. They talk amicably about Anne being grown-up and about what the other students in Anne’s class will do next with their lives, and then Marilla tells Anne something that shocks her: she once dated Gilbert’s father. Marilla says that they broke up because they had a quarrel and both were too stubborn to make up.
Marilla comes home in a dejected state from having her eyes checked. The oculist told her that she could go blind in as little as six months; to keep her vision for longer than that, she would have to give up reading and sewing. Anne tries to get Marilla’s hopes up about maintaining her vision and reducing her headaches, but Marilla says she won’t have anything to live for if she can’t read or sew. When Marilla goes to sleep, Anne goes up to her bedroom and cries. She looks out her window and thinks about how much things have changed since she came home from Queen’s; the narrator observes that “before she went to bed there was a smile on her face and peace in her heart” (p. 377).
A few days later, Anne sees Marilla talking to a man from a nearby town. When Anne asks who the man is, Marilla responds that she was discussing selling Green Gables to him. Anne tells Marilla that she shouldn’t sell Green Gables because she will stay at home with Marilla instead of going to Redmond College. Anne has already applied to teach at the Avonlea school as well as a school in a nearby town. She expects not to teach in Avonlea since Gilbert will be teaching there, but she says she will stay at Green Gables every night during the warm seasons and will come back on the weekends during winters. Marilla doesn’t want Anne to sacrifice her scholarship and ambitions, but Anne says that she has merely changed her ambitions.
There is gossip throughout Avonlea about Anne’s decision to give up her scholarship. Many people think she is foolish to give it up, though Mrs. Rachel Lynde says it was foolish for a woman to think of receiving so much education in the first place. Anne assures Mrs. Rachel that she will still receive just as much education by studying all the same topics at home. Anne tells Mrs. Rachel that she will be teaching in a nearby town, and Mrs. Rachel informs her that she will actually be teaching in Avonlea because Gilbert told the school trustees to hire Anne instead.
The next evening, Anne runs into Gilbert on her way back from visiting Matthew’s grave. Anne thanks Gilbert, and Gilbert eagerly asks if they can be friends now after so many years of stubbornness. Anne tells Gilbert that she forgave him long ago. They stand together talking for half an hour, which Marilla notices and comments on when Anne comes back to Green Gables. The book ends with Anne sitting at her bedroom window feeling content that her life is full of aspirations, friendship, and dreams.
This section of the book shows just how special Anne is. Not only is she one of the brightest students at the Avonlea school, but she also ties for first place on the entrance exam into Queen's College, which is taken by students from many different towns; on top of that, she goes on to win a scholarship to university, which at least fifty students were competing for. This is especially impressive since Anne had very little formal education before she was eleven. Anne's educational achievements demonstrate a moral of the story: that hard work and healthy rivalry can lead to success, even for people who have faced trauma or other hindrances.
Time passes quickly in this final section of Anne of Green Gables. While the previous thirty chapters have described three years of Anne's life, her entire school year at Queen's passes in just three chapters. These chapters show how adaptable Anne is. She makes new friends, maintains her relationships with Marilla, Matthew, and Diana, and excels at her schoolwork. This is likely another positive coping skill that Anne gained due to her traumatic childhood. Because she moved to multiple houses and towns before age eleven, she had to learn how to make new relationships and find things in life to keep her happy and motivated. This is further evidence of the moral that people who have experienced trauma or difficulties can succeed in life.
Montgomery uses small symbols to show how Anne has changed Marilla and Matthew over the years she has been in their lives. In particular, Marilla's opinions on beauty and vanity have shifted. For example, Montgomery writes, "In her own white room, where Marilla had set a flowering house rose on the window sill, Anne looked about her and drew a long breath of happiness" (p. 362). This contrasts with Marilla's earlier statements that flowers don't belong indoors and Anne's feelings that the bedroom at Green Gables was too plain and bare. Because beauty and nature have always been important to Anne, they have become important to Marilla, too.
Montgomery foreshadows Matthew's death at multiple points in Anne of Green Gables. First, the narrator says that the reason Marilla and Matthew are taking in an orphan boy is to help Matthew with farm work due to his declining health. Then, Marilla discusses Matthew's heart with both Anne and Mrs. Rachel Lynde. Finally, Montgomery heavily foreshadows Matthew's death at the end of Chapter 26 and the beginning of Chapter 27. Chapter 26 ends, "Anne always remembered the silvery, peaceful beauty and fragrant calm of that night. It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has been laid upon it" (p. 366). This is followed by the chapter title, "The Reaper Whose Name Is Death" (p. 367). This foreshadowing prepares readers—particularly young readers—to cope with the difficult emotions around a central character dying.
The end of Anne of Green Gables shows that stubbornness can be a negative and positive quality. Anne's stubbornness prevents her from having a positive relationship with Gilbert throughout their time at the Avonlea school and Queen's College. Anne only makes up with Gilbert after hearing a story from Marilla about how stubbornness led her to break up with Gilbert's father as a young girl. However, stubbornness is also shown to be a good quality through Anne's stubbornness about staying home at Green Gables and caring for Marilla. When Marilla is trying to convince Anne to go to university, Anne responds, "You can't prevent me. I'm...'obstinate as a mule' as Mrs. Lynde once told me" (p. 380). In this case, stubbornness is not a matter of hubris, but rather devotion to a moral obligation.