Eleanor H. Porter’s novel, Pollyanna, can be called the epitome of optimism in all of children’s literature. The eleven year-old heroine, who inspires all the citizens of Beldingsville in Vermont to play her “Glad Game,” is the heart of the storyline.
An orphan, Pollyanna Whittier is sent to live with her only surviving relative, Polly Harrington. As the sister of Pollyanna’s mother, Polly is completely unprepared for her niece’s jubilant, energetic personality and is bewildered by her unconventional replies and actions. Nevertheless, the startling effects of Pollyanna’s everlasting gladness slowly touch the whole town and even her cold-hearted Aunt Polly. There are many memorable moments and quotes in Pollyanna, particularly the ideas and thoughts of Pollyanna herself. The author has succeeded in demonstrating her own optimistic outlook on life through her main character and the resounding pessimism of the modern world.
However, Pollyanna succumbs to being pessimistic when she is faced with her own personal tragedy. Therefore, the story in Pollyanna is also realistic in the midst of its positive approach to life’s problems through the “Glad Game.” The author even interweaves a critical overview of twentieth century Christianity and its “charities.” While Pollyanna may be a fine work of fiction, it is fiction nonetheless and no amount of positive thinking from the characters of Pollyanna or her friends can lift the monotony of the text itself. Pollyanna is truly an idealistic novel best suited for children and adults brave enough to endure the author’s personal philosophy.
Original review: Part 1: The ‘Glad Books’, Examiner.com