Reading Anne of Avonlea, I see the main characters encounter a problem when by accident the hall that they cared about so much was painted blue instead of green:

"Haven't you heard?" said Jane wrathfully. "Well, its simply this. . .Joshua Pye has gone and painted the hall blue instead of green. . .a deep, brilliant blue, the shade they use for painting carts and wheelbarrows. And Mrs. Lynde says it is the most hideous color for a building, especially when combined with a red roof, that she ever saw or imagined. You could simply have knocked me down with a feather when I heard it. It's heartbreaking, after all the trouble we've had."

While this paragraph mentions that "blue" was "the shade they use for painting carts and wheelbarrows", it's not obvious to me why that is a problem. Do I miss some important context which is obvious to Canadian readers? Why is green a better choice here "especially when combined with a red roof", and why is blue with a red roof so "hideous"?

  • 2
    This book was written over 100 years ago. I expect the problem is not apparent to modern Canadian readers
    – Peter Shor
    Aug 3, 2021 at 11:55
  • 2
    I've seen brilliantly colored buildings in a New England November. The effect probably hits earlier up there but the clash between dreary landscape and garish color is ghastly.
    – Mary
    Aug 4, 2021 at 23:15

1 Answer 1


I read three things in this passage:

  1. They wanted green and simply don't like the shade of blue. I don't find significance beyond that; it's just reflective of the world in the book.
  2. Similarly, the aesthetics of the book world make that shade of blue, along with red, in poor taste. Too gaudy for a town hall, perhaps.
  3. To use the color of "carts and wheelbarrows" — the things of laborers — for the town hall — a place of importance — is in poor taste.

I'm not aware of any significance to green, other that the fact that that's the color the characters in the book wanted.

  • 2
    "the world in the book" - you make it sound like it's set in a fantasy universe, but it's just 19th-century Canada. I think the OP is asking about what features of the "world" of that historical period and location are relevant to the colours here.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Aug 8, 2021 at 9:46
  • @Randal'Thor Agreed. By "the world in the book" I don't mean to imply a fantasy universe, just a work of fiction. The characters are reflective of 19th-century Canada, but not definitive of it. The characters in the book wanted green paint, but I don't think this implies anything about 19th-century Canadians attributing special significance to green paint.
    – Aaron
    Aug 8, 2021 at 13:35
  • @Aaron: but was it our universe or not? What would real 19th century Canadians have thought about a bright blue building with a red roof? Did Lucy Montgomery really think that this was a hideous colour for a building, or was she gently mocking Canadian middle-class sensibiities?
    – Peter Shor
    Aug 20, 2021 at 20:00
  • @PeterShor I believe she was mocking the Canadian middle class, but I don't think the specific colors are important, just their (the book characters') attitude toward them. I think the most significant element is the reference to the color of farm tools.
    – Aaron
    Aug 20, 2021 at 20:04

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