Porter, Eleanor H.: Pollyanna
(researched by Kate Cooke)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
L.C. Page and Company, 53 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass. 1913. First impression Feb.1913. Published simultaneously in London: The Colonial Press, C.H. Simonds and Co., Boston, USA.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First edition published in cloth. Pollyanna contained in a Cloth box with edition of Pollyanna Grows up. Because Pollyanna Grows Up not printed until 1915, box must have been a later addition.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
181 leaves. 1-8, frontispiece illustration, 10-11, vii-viii, 1-18, illustration, 19-27, illustration, 28-82, illustration, 83-113, illustration, 114-136, illustration, 137-165, illustration, 166-232, illustration, 233-310, 1-12, 1-10 (last 22 pages of bookm consists of advertisements for other books by Eleanor H.Porter and for books published by L.C. Page and Company).
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
Not edited or introduced.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
Illustrated by Stockton Mulford.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Book in good condition, only slight tears on corners of cloth cover and cloth box. Large, clear, dark print. Well printed.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper is thick and rough-edged. The pages are different sizes. Thinner, waxy paper is used for the illustration pages. The illustrated pages have not held up as well as the text pages, which are in excellent condition.
11 Description of binding(s)
Pages gathered into cloth piece that runs along interior of book spine.
12 Transcription of title page
POLLYANNA/ By/ Eleanor H. Porter/ Author of "Miss Billy," "Miss Billy's Decision," "Cross Currents," "The Turn of the Tides," etc./ Illustrated by/ Stockton Mulford/ pen and ink seal with words: SPE LABOR LEVIS/Boston * L.C. Page & / Company * MDCCCCXIII
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
First published serially in 1912 Christian Herald. Could not find location of original manuscript.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
The first edition I examined is in pink cloth, the Library of Congress owns one that is not contained in box set and is in blue cloth. Also listed is a first edition, first impression volume in green clot
h. In the first pages Porter dedicates the book to "My Cousin Belle." There is a handwritten inscription on first page opposite cover, "In Remembrance of March 24-1913." Under this is written in pencil "Grandmother." On the same page far from the inscription is the handwritten name "Marion Meable." Title stamp on cover, and similar one on spine, in gold color with flowers on either side.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
1938 Silver Anniversary edition
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
February 1913, first impression 1915, twenty-fifth impression 1916, thirty-sixth impression (360 thousand) 1919 fourty-sixth impression (460 thousand) 1920 fourty-seventh impression (bought out by publisher) 1946, seventy-sixth impression
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
1913: London: Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons 1925, 1927: London: Harrap 1940: New York: Farrar & Strauss (Page Co. merged with Farrar and Strauss 1957) 1960: reprint of original Harrap publication 1967: Waltham, MA: Omnisys Corp. (microfilm of 1913 edition) 1969, 1973, 1982,1984, 1994: Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Puffin 1972, 1987: North Ryde, NSW (Australia): Angus and Robertson 1975, 1987: Scholastic INC. (trade paper, out of print) 1977: Laurel NY: Lightyear Press 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990: Dell Publishing (trade paper) 1988, 1989: Unicorn Publishing House, INC (trade cloth, out of print) 1988, 1996: Puffin Books (trade Paper) 1992: New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Books 1993, 1994: Barbour Publishing INC (paper text) 1994: Random House Value Publishing INC (trade cloth) 1994: Ware, Hartfordshire: Wordsworth Classics 1995: Playmore INC Publishers (trade cloth) 1995: New York: Baronet Books 1996: Trafalgar Square, US (trade cloth) 1997: Troll Communications L.L.C. (trade paper) 1997: Core Knowledge Foundation (abridged, trade paper) 1999: HarpersCollins Publishers, INC (paperback) unknown: Buccaneer Press (library binding) unknown: Amereon, LTD, US (trade cloth) unknown: A.L. Burt Co. unknown: Grosset & Dunlap
6 Last date in print?
The novel is still in print.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
From 1913 to 1975 1,059,000 hardbound copies of "Pollyanna" were sold (Hackett,80 Years of Best Sellers).
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Over 200,000 total copies were sold by 1922 (Encyclopedia of American Biography Volume XVIII, 1922). According to one source over one million copies were sold in first few years of publication (Dictionary of Literary Biography, 1981). According to Mott in his book "Golden Multitudes"(1947), new printings were required weekly through first month after publication and at least monthly over next year. He also says that the book sold over a million copies, selling 900,000 copies between 1910 and 1919.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
"Pollyanna" is discussed in the 1914 issue of The Christian Herald as part of an advertisement for a new serial on Pollyanna called "Pollyanna Returns." The ad is given the entire back cover of the November 11, 1914 issue and includes a picture of Mrs. Eleanor Porter and an illustration of mother and daughter. Of Pollyanna the ad says: "When Eleanor Porter wrote her great story of "Pollyanna" she created an absolutely new type of American fiction. Under the inspiration of "Pollyanna" who was the sunniest and most delightful of optimists, people everywhere began to play "the Glad Game". . . Just two years ago this month, "Pollyanna" made her debut in The Christian Herald, where for a whole season she played the game. . .When the story was ended and the great curtain dropped over the game and its player, a great sigh of regret for the vanishing "Pollyanna" went up all over this continent.
There is also a blurb about Pollyanna in the book section of the March 17, 1913 issue of "Boston Daily Advertiser." It is titled "A home Missionary" with price and publisher listed below. There is given a brief summary of the book and the final sentence: "With a familiar type of story Mrs. Porter does well."
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
1915: Pollyanna, the glad girl; a four act comedy. Catherine Chisholm Cushing. New York: Klaw & Erlanger.(played on Broadway) 1919: silent, black and white motion picture. 1920: silent film with music and english titles. 1960: Walt Disney Productions. Motion Picture. 1960, 1992: Walt Disney Productions. Videorecording of 1960 motion picture. 1960, 1982: Walt Disney Productions. Spanish edition of 1960 motion picture. 1961: film reel with film strip facts: collaborator Paul A. Witty 1973, 1993: Fox video; CBS/Fox video; BBC video. 1974: Glendale, California: Walt Disney Education Materials Co. (two rolls, two cassettes and guide) 1980, 1985: Blackhawk films. Reissue of 1919 motion picture. 1982: Walt Disney Productions. Two videodiscs of 1960 motion picture. 1990: Mary Pickford Co. 1992: Foothill video. Video release of 1919 motion picture. 1995: Washington, DC: Audiobook Contractors (soundcassettes) 1995: Bath, England: Hampton NH: Chivers Audiobooks, Chivers North America (4 soundcassettes) 1996: Entertainment Distributing. Video release of 1920 motion picture. 1998: Newport Beach, CA: Books on tape (4 sound cassettes)
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
1914: Bergen: Nygaard. 1926?: Gen?e: J.-H. Jeheber. (French) 1955: Ankara Caddesi, Istanbul: Varlik Yayinevi. 1960, 1969?: Yerushalayim: Hotsa'at S. zak ve-shut. (Hebrew) 1962: Tokyo, Kadokawa Shoten. Translator: Hanako Muraoka. 1971: Istanbul: Ne* sriyat A.*S. 1973: Barcelona: Editorial Bruguera. 1976: Altin Kitoplar Yayinevi. (Istanbul?) 1978: Sao Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional. 1986: Soul: Ch'ongmok. Translator: Wi-su Kang. 1988: Warszawa. 1989: Tokyo, Kinno hoshisha. 1991: Praha: Oympia. (svoboda) 1991: Soul T'ukpyoisi: Yerimdang. Translator: Yong-mol Chang. 1992: T'ai pei shih: Hsiao Ch'ang shu fang. 1995: Tel Aviv: 'Ofarim.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
Serialized in the November 1913 issues of The Christian Herald. The Christian Herald. Chappaqua, New York.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Porter wrote a serialized sequel to "Pollyanna", called "Pollyanna Returns" for The Christian Herald, in 1914. She published a sequel in novel form, Pollyanna Grows Up in 1914, Page & Company. There was a series of 11 volumes of "Glad books" based on the Pollyanna story, mostly written by Harriett Lummis Smith and Elizabeth Barton. There are many sequels written by other authors, such as "Pollyanna Herself", by Ruth I. Dowell (Pollyanna Productions, 1988) "Pollyanna Comes Home" and "Pollyanna Plays the Game," by Colleen L. Reece (Barbour Publishing, INC, 1995). In other countries and other languages readers, too, have been enchanted by the Pollyanna stories and have written their own sequels.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Eleanor Hodgman was born in 1868,her father was a druggist (National Cyclopedia). Hodgman's mother, if not herself an artist, at least had a love of art, as Eleanor lists her mother's paintings among the estate in her will (papers of Eleanor H. Porter). Among Eleanor's paternal ancestors was Thomas Hodgman who settled in Massachusetts in 1663 and eleven soldiers in the American Revolution (National Cyclopedia).
Eleanor's older brother was Fred C. Hodgman (The papers of Eleanor H. Porter). Besides teaching, singing and writing Eleanor was involved in many social clubs, including the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Boston Author's Club. She was also a member of the Congregationalist church(National Cyclopedia).
Eleanor became Mrs. Porter in 1892, when she married a businessman who later became president of the National Separator and Machine Company (James, 85).
Porter was a proficient writer, publishing at least one book every year between after 1913, sometimes writing under the pseudonym Eleanor Stuart (Kirkpatrick, 622). She had eight books on the Bestsellers lists (Publishers' Weekly). It seems that she had no agent but corresponded directly with her publishers (The Papers of Eleanor H. Porter). When Mrs. Porter wrote Pollyanna, that type of story, a secularized genre of earlier evangelical stories, was very popular (Kirkpatrick, 622). Mrs. Porter includes a journalistic aspect or commentary in many of her stories. In Pollyanna the objects of criticism are the "insincere and overorganized women's charity organizations." In 1918, an interviewer described Mrs. Porter as someone not unlike her Pollyanna character, "a little woman, blonde,youthful looking, her light and fluffy hair neatly combed, her blue eyes- 'Laughing Eyes'-changing rapidly with her thoughts" (James, 85).
Mrs. Porter may not have approved of that cheery description of herself, as she did not altogether approve of the reception of Pollyanna. In an interview Mrs. Porter said: "You know I have been made to suffer from the Pollyanna books. I have been placed often in a false light. People have thought that Pollyanna chirped that she was 'glad' at everything. . . I have never believed that we ought to deny discomfort and pain and evil; I have merely thought that it is far better to 'greet the unknown with a cheer'" (Overton, 262)
Mrs. Porter died in May, 1920, at the age of 51 of Pulmonary Tuberculosis (James, 85).
Bibliograpy:
James, Edward T. Ed. Notable American Women 1607-1950. Massachusetts The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.1971.
Kirkpatrick, D.L. Ed. Twentieth Century Children's Writers. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1983.
Mott. Golden Multitudes. 1947.
The National Cyclopedia of American Biograpy, Volume XVIII. James T. White and Co. 1922.
Overton, Grant. The Women Who Make Our Novels. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company. 1928.
The Papers of Eleanor H. Porter. Special Collections Alderman. Barrett Collection.
Publishers' Weekly. Volume 149, part 1. Jan-Mar 1946.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
"Book Review Digest", 1913: "It is a story of the wonders worked by a sunny disposition and shows the far-reaching influence of a child's love." (Literary Digest) "A Little Girl who has been taught the game of finding something to be glad for in whatever happens, and to do at once what she thinks is right, is landed suddenly in a somewhat fossilized New England Village. She applies her scheme of life to the people about her with startling results, as funny as they are pathetic." (New York Sun)
"The Booklist", A.L.A., Vol. 10 Sept. 1913-June 1914 "Pollyanna after the death fo her father, a western minister, lives with her aunt who 'hopes she knows her duty.' By what is called the 'glad game,' which Pollyanna has learned from her father, the whole community is transformed and most of all the aunt. Although the story is sentimental to a degree, it will be enjoyed by a large number of adult and juvenile readers."
"Boston Daily Advertiser" March 17, 1913 "A Home Missionary" (caption) "With a familiar type of story Mrs. Porter does well."
"Bookman", May, 1915. "The Popularity of Pollyanna" by Grace Isabel Colbron ". . . some simple little book that comes without much heralding, without the protection of a well-known author's name. [Readers] take that simple little book to their hearts just because they like it,. . . This is what has happened to Pollyanna. . . [The reader] will not read either of the Pollyanna books for the plot. He will read it for the little heroine herself. . . There is little artistry in the Pollyanna books, but great sincerity. Many of the characters are merely foils to Pollyanna, and are not true in themselves, but this is a fault of workmanship, not conviction. . . It is an indication of the fact that readers are willing to take a lesson for life out of their books. And that, after all, is one of the great aims of art."
Although most reviewers intimate that the story of Pollyanna is overly sentimental, none blatantly criticise the novel. It is almost as though the reviewers, too, have been taken in by the character of Pollyanna and cannot bear to write a harsh word about her. Besides reviews, Pollyanna's popularity can be seen in the number of "glad clubs" that grew up around the country shortly after publication of the novel. Children and adults, equally, participated in these clubs.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
"Book Review Digest", 1913: "It is a story of the wonders worked by a sunny disposition and shows the far-reaching influence of a child's love." (Literary Digest) "A Little Girl who has been taught the game of finding something to be glad for in whatever happens, and to do at once what she thinks is right, is landed suddenly in a somewhat fossilized New England Village. She applies her scheme of life to the people about her with startling results, as funny as they are pathetic." (New York Sun)
"The Booklist", A.L.A., Vol. 10 Sept. 1913-June 1914 "Pollyanna after the death fo her father, a western minister, lives with her aunt who 'hopes she knows her duty.' By what is called the 'glad game,' which Pollyanna has learned from her father, the whole community is transformed and most of all the aunt. Although the story is sentimental to a degree, it will be enjoyed by a large number of adult and juvenile readers."
"Boston Daily Advertiser" March 17, 1913 "A Home Missionary" (caption) "With a familiar type of story Mrs. Porter does well."
"Bookman", May, 1915. "The Popularity of Pollyanna" by Grace Isabel Colbron ". . . some simple little book that comes without much heralding, without the protection of a well-known author's name. [Readers] take that simple little book to their hearts just because they like it,. . . This is what has happened to Pollyanna. . . [The reader] will not read either of the Pollyanna books for the plot. He will read it for the little heroine herself. . . There is little artistry in the Pollyanna books, but great sincerity. Many of the characters are merely foils to Pollyanna, and are not true in themselves, but this is a fault of workmanship, not conviction. . . It is an indication of the fact that readers are willing to take a lesson for life out of their books. And that, after all, is one of the great aims of art."
Although most reviewers intimate that the story of Pollyanna is overly sentimental, none blatantly criticise the novel. It is almost as though the reviewers, too, have been taken in by the character of Pollyanna and cannot bear to write a harsh word about her. Besides reviews, Pollyanna's popularity can be seen in the number of "glad clubs" that grew up around the country shortly after publication of the novel. Children and adults, equally, participated in these clubs.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Eleanor H. Porter's novel, Pollyanna, is one which met with unique success. The book was number eight on the bestseller list in 1913 and number 2 in 1914. In 1916 the story was written and produced as a broadway play (Notable). Sparking "Glad Clubs" around the U.S., Pollyanna soon became a household, and eventually a dictionary, term. Published not long after Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna is also a story about a young girl with an optimistic spirit and a gift for sharing that spirit with others; yet neither of the former achieved the same level of success as Pollyanna. Singular about Porter's success is the initial acclaim the book received as an adult book, yet it doesn't fully explain its continued success. In 1960 Walt Disney produced a Pollyanna film, which was rereleased in 1992; and the book is still widely printed and read today (Virgo, Worldcat). Critics describe the book as overly sentimental, with shallow characters, yet millions of people, adults and children love the Pollyanna stories. The biggest factor for the book's unique success is Pollyanna herself and the message she brings to her readers.
In the years before 1913, the world was developing and changing. It was an age of industrialization and urbanization. By 1913, industry was commonplace and the automobile new and primitive. Only in the last twenty years had the internal combustion engine been invented, and cars begun to be able to go faster than six miles an hour. For people the age of Pollyanna's aunt and adult readers, the automobile likely seemed a strange, scary creation (Columbia Encyclopedia). In Pollyanna, in fact, it was an automobile that caused Pollyanna to lose the use of her legs. After the accident, no one in the book says a word about the driver's misuse of the vehicle, instead they blame the machine itself. Nancy, the domestic servant, says, "Ter think of it runnin' down our little girl! I always hated the evil-smellin' things," (Porter, 201).
Also during this time, European countries were growing, adding new countries to their own in a great imperial race. Porter refers to the role of imperialism when she speaks of the Ladies Aiders who "had decided that they would rather send all their money to bring up the little India boys than to save enough to bring up one little boy in their own town," (Porter, 111). A similar idea drove imperialism, the belief that the "heathen" in other countries could be helped and civilized by the Western Powers. Different political idealogies were being experimented with all over the world. Anarchists assasinated leaders in many countries, including a U.S. president. It was a time of psychologists like Freud, who found that humans were only driven by animal desires and philosphers like Nietzsche who sent up a cry that "God is Dead" (Noble). People were looking for stability, for something to believe in and Pollyanna offered them that.
In 1913 itself, war was impending and people were actually excited and ready for it. Most people believed that the war would be short and just. Pollyanna was higher on the bestseller list in 1914 when Europe was actually embroiled in World War I (Hackett, 68). This timing aided Pollyanna's popularity. Many people expected a good outcome to the war and Pollyanna echoed this hopefulness in a general way. with so many dissenters about the good and rationality of people, Pollyanna shouts that there is goodness in everyone and always something about which to be glad. Pollyanna's first words in the book are "oh, I'm so glad, glad, GLAD to see you" (Porter, 16).
The "Glad Clubs" likely increased the sales of the book and led more people into Pollyanna's enchanting web. With no help from Porter herself, the "Glad Clubs" brought the spirit of Pollyanna into people's homes. In a time of much change, Pollyanna and the clubs provided a very simple place to which people could turn. Gladness required no faith or analyzation, not even Nietzsche could say that happiness was dead. Porter even brings religion into the mix whith the reverend in her book. When he is down about arguing amongst his congregation, Pollyanna gives him the "rejoicing" verses. These are texts in the Bible which tell people to rejoice and be glad. "Thus it happened that the Rev. Paul Ford's sermon the next Sunday was a veritable bugle-call to the best that was in every man and woman and child that heard it; and its text was one of Pollyanna's shining eight hundred" rejoicing verses (Porter, 196). Pollyanna's message is a similar "bugle-call." Whether or not one believes in God, such texts can provide comfort and anyone can find something in which to rejoice. In this way Pollyanna was somewhat universal. Religious beliefs are not in any way a hindrance to believing in Pollyanna's message.
Pollyanna is also universal in audience according to age. Unlike heroines in other children's books, Pollyanna does not consort with children but with adults. There is only one other child Pollyanna's age in the entire book. Otherwise Pollyanna is consistently meeting with and helping adults. The subject matter of the book concerns specifically adult problems, such as unrequited love and poverty. A doctor who is despairing in his work looks "into Pollyanna's shining eyes, he felt as if a loving hand had been suddenly laid on his head in blessing" (Porter,137). The Ladies Aid is another element more readily understandable to adults. These elements make the book appealing to adults and such adults are more likely to share the story with their children. Regardless of age, Pollyanna touches every person's heart. The same year that Pollyanna reached number 2 on the bestsellers list, two books about boys were on the list, one of which was Locke's The Fortunate Youth (Hackett, 69). This shows a trend not only for books about young children, but also a desire among people for books that are unreservedly happy. Perhaps with Europe in the first year of war people wanted books that shared their own optimism about the war. Another interesting note to this trend is the similar success of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. This book was number 8 on the bestseller list in 1904, when the Russo-Japanese war was in progress. Again another time of war that did not physically touch America. Also in that year the New York Subway opened, a sign not only of increasing technology but also of urbanization. During 1904 historical and romantic fiction were consistently topping bestseller lists (Hackett, 68). Such events result in a trend towards romantic or "glad" books, which are not far different from events in the years Pollyanna was most popular. Mott describes the primary virtue of Pollyanna as "cheerfulness in the face of troubles," and this term could also be applied to the other three books (Mott).
Another trait that Pollyanna, The Fortunate Youth and Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm have in common is simplicity of landscape and a movement away from urbanization. Perhaps this aspect of getting back to a simpler life also appeals to people. In The Fortunate Youth, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and even Anne of Green Gables, which made it on no American bestseller lists, the main characters rarely ride in cars, but travel in carriages. In all four there is very little mention of new technologies or city life. Although there are many similarities between Pollyanna and these other popular books of the time, Pollyanna has enjoyed a success different and perhaps greater than the other three. The Fortunate Youth is no longer in print, Anne of Green Gables wasn't a bestseller and when Walt Disney chose to make a movie in 1960 it chose Pollyanna, not the better selling Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm. Aside from books about young children of the early 1900's, there are few books that cause people to meet together in clubs dedicated to a primary message of the book. There are few books that become broadway plays. Pollyanna's success makes the book stand out from the others as a phenomen all its own. Porter, with a genre that was not unique or new in itself, touched on an unprecedented popularity. There was something about Pollyanna that caused people to love her.
The immediate appeal Pollyanna held for many Americans is readily explainable. Less obvious is why the popularity has continued so consistently. Of course, Americans of any era can appreciate an ideal child and good family values, but that doesn't explain the reach of the success. Pollyanna is a term still in use, and it is hard to find anyone who doesn't know something of the story. Other authors have written books about Pollyanna, and the story has been translated into many languages. Another sign of the continued popularity of Pollyanna is the fact that Disney made the story into a movie in 1960. There must be a contiuing audience for Pollyanna, as well as a continuing need for some part of the message she sends.
Again current events provide part of the answer. The 1960's were a time of turmoil for the US, there were demonstrations across the country for a variety of causes and many people were questioning what it meant to be American. Yet it was also a time of great hope. There were strong leaders, such a John Kennedy in the U.S., and foreign troubles, such as the cold war, seemed to be ending. Porter's story and her Pollyanna could have been a reminder of sorts about what it is to live in America. Parents probably appreciated a children's movie that preached a good set of ethics, although the message of American values was likely a subtle one. In a troubled era such a film could remind viewers of a simpler time in America. It was likely the movie itself which reminded a wide audience of Americans who Pollyanna was, brought the name back into American households; that is, if it had ever left. Through a mixture of these traits, Pollyanna became a children's classic.
Pollyanna's message and her character are wholly American, yet also universal, making her loveable in any language. Pollyanna has traits that Americans claim for themselves proudly. In 1913, when different political idealogies abounded and war was imminent people probably loved anything that made them proud to be American and to live in a democracy. In a captilist society, Pollyanna is an entrepreneur of gladness. Pollyanna allows people to forget about the fast-paced urban world and get back to a more traditional image of small-town America, where everyone knows everyone else and no one ever leaves. Porter's criticism of the Ladies Aid for choosing to support an Indian boy rather than an American emphasizes this focus on America. Pollyanna herself epitomizes American values, such as independence and self-reliance. Pollyanna, even from the start is very independent, the first day she is at her aunt's house she goes out exploring on her own. She sees a tree outside her window that is a path to exploration of the outdoors. She decides to attempt the climb, with the words, "I believe I can do it" (Porter, 30) and she does. It is this attitude of faith, determination and bravery that Pollyanna carries with her in her striving to achieve various goals. When she sees a problem she doesn't ask anyone else for help, but does what she can to better the situation. Her "glad game" is a sadness solving device her father developed and which she uses repeatedly to help every adult she meets. Never does Pollyanna fail to believe in her ability to make others happy or that there is always hope for a better tomorrow. The first settlers in America helped their neighbors erect homes and survive in the wilderness. In a similar way Pollyanna helps her neighbors find happiness in the 20th Century. Pollyanna looks at none of what she does as a duty, as does her aunt, but rather as a joy. She helps people altruistically and has an innate understanding of right and wrong. Pollyanna is a good child, along with the many American attributes she has and so she makes a fine representative of an American child.
The Pollyanna books appealed to adults not only with the image of the ideal American child but also because so many of the issues with which Pollyanna dealt were adult ones. Many of these adult problems reflect moral values, as well. Pollyanna finds a home for an orphaned boy with a lonely man, emphasizing not only the importance of family, but also the different shapes families can take. Pollyanna makes a family with her aunt, when she is orphaned; in America not all families must be traditional. It is also important that Pollyanna helps an American boy rather than looking abroad as do the Ladies Aiders. Another aspect of such family values is mentioned near the end of the book when a woman whom Pollyanna has helped comes to visit the injured Pollyanna. Pollyanna's aunt at once recognizes the woman as someone of "ill-repute." The stranger explains to the aunt that Pollyanna has helped her to change her ways and prevented her and her husband from getting a divorce. She said that Pollyanna, "didn't know, I suspect, that her kind of folks don't generally call on my kind. Maybe if they did call more, Miss Harrington, there wouldn't be so many--of my kind" (Porter, 244). Thus, Pollyanna brings people and families together in a wholesome way. Porter's timing of Pollyanna was advantageous to the popularity of the book. With the turmoil of the time and the fast rate at which America and Europe were becoming industrialized, people appreciated books that focused on a simpler, slower life. When science was displacing religion and philosophers turning away from religion people needed something to believe in and Pollyanna offered them gladness. The popularity of the book was furthered by "Glad Clubs" that came into existence not long after the book. Porter wrote a book that is both age-centered and universal, she does not write for a particular age group or an audience with particular religious beliefs. Books about young children were popular in Pollyanna's time, yet Pollyanna's popularity has loomed larger and lasted longer than the others. This unique success reflects the unique character of the book. It is Pollyanna who wins people's hearts and spreads the message of morality and joy. Pollyanna, makes up for what else the book lacks and is a small symbol of America which will be remembered for decades.
Works Cited:
Columbia Encyclopedia. Fifth edition.
Hackett. 80 Years of Bestsellers 1895-1975.
James. Notable American Women 1607-1950. 1971.
Mott. Golden Multitudes. 1947.
Noble. Western Civilizatioon. Second Edition. Boston, New York: Houghton-Mifflin Company. 1998.
Porter. Pollyanna. England: Puffin Books. 1994.
Virgo, Worldcat.
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