The Secret Garden

by

Frances Hodgson Burnett

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The Secret Garden: Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mary spends the next week with Colin, as it's still too rainy to go outside. They look at books and talk, and Mrs. Medlock even tells Mary that her presence has been good for the staff—the nurse has agreed to stay on. Mary is still careful to not reveal to Colin that she's already found the secret garden, as she wants to make sure he can keep secrets first. She also wants to find out if Colin could ever be taken into the secret garden without anyone finding out. She wonders if it would make him stop thinking about dying, especially since Mary now notices that she looks very different now than when she arrived from India. Martha insists that this is the work of the moor air.
Mary's curiosity as to whether being in the secret garden would help Colin just like it's helping her indicates that she's become more like Martha and recognizes the healing properties of nature and the moor air. When she guards the secret so carefully from Colin, it does speak to her selfish nature, as she doesn't want to share her secret place if he's just going to ruin it for her.
Themes
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
Mary does worry that Colin's dislike of people looking at him will mean that he won't want to meet Dickon, so she asks Colin one day why he gets angry when people look at him. Colin explains that as a little child, people used to stare at him and whisper. Once, he bit a lady when she patted his cheek. This doesn't impress Mary, but she presses on and asks if Colin would mind Dickon seeing him. Colin supposes he wouldn't, since Dickon is an "animal charmer" and he himself is a "boy animal."
By referring to himself as a "boy animal," Colin shows through his language that he's already becoming a part of the natural world, even though he hasn't yet been out in it. This offers some hope that he's going to prove himself trustworthy and then be ready to let the secret garden help him once Mary shares it with him.
Themes
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
Mary wakes up very early on the next sunny morning. She throws open her window and admires the moor. As she does, she notices that it's warm outside. She dresses herself and races out into the grounds. Everything seems green and Mary notices new things growing in the flowerbeds. At the door to the secret garden, Mary sees a crow on the wall. Inside the garden she finds Dickon working, and he says that he woke up early and ran all the way here. He introduces Mary to his fox, Captain, and his crow, Soot.
When it's so sunny and things have grown following the rain, the novel reminds the reader that even the rainy days spent indoors have a purpose: it gives the plants the nourishment they need to grow, and it gives Mary the opportunity to make another friend and decide whether to bring Colin in on the secret.
Themes
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
Dickon shows Mary some blooming crocuses and she kisses them. They run all around the garden admiring the growing things. Soon, the robin flies into the garden with something in his beak. Dickon quiets Mary and tells her that they have to be careful; the robin is building a nest and they don't want to scare him. They sit quietly and Dickon explains that they have to show the robin they mean no harm and then, he'll accept them. Mary does as Dickon says and tries to look like grass or a tree.
Kissing the crocuses suggests that Mary has a lot in common with Mrs. Craven, whether Mary is mimicking the woman’s behavior on purpose or not. It indicates that she recognizes that these flowers are living things that need care and affection, just like she does. By guiding Mary through looking like a part of the garden, Dickon is able to help Mary connect even more deeply with nature.
Themes
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
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To distract themselves from looking at the robin, Mary tells Dickon about Colin. Dickon looks surprised and then relieved that he doesn't have to pretend he doesn't know about Colin. Dickon says that everyone feels sorry for Colin. Mary talks about finding Colin in the night and asks Dickon if he thinks Colin truly wants to die. Dickon suggests that Colin just wishes he'd never been born, mostly because of Mr. Craven's neglect.
Dickon's assessment of how Colin might feel again implicates neglectful parents in damaging children. He implies that if Mr. Craven hadn't neglected Colin and fixated so much on Colin's impending death, Colin might be healthy and energetic.
Themes
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Mary says that Colin spends his time waiting for a lump to grow on his back, which Dickon insists is an awful way to live. He points out how green the garden is and then suggests that if Colin were in the garden, he wouldn't have time to think about lumps because he'd be too busy watching things grow. Mary agrees and wonders if Colin could keep a secret and if he'd even want to come. Dickon reasons that if the three of them were out in the garden, nobody would be thinking bad things about Colin, and it would help. Mary points out that Colin says he hates the outdoors, but he likes to hear about the garden because it's a secret.
Again, Mary recognizes that while the outdoors aren't necessary a huge draw for Colin at this point, having a secret is. This suggests that while Colin isn't yet fully on board with how exciting gardening can be, he still craves the independence that the secret garden represents. Dickon's assessment of how the garden would help suggests that despite Colin's tepid interest in the outdoors, it's still something that's going to heal him regardless.
Themes
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Dickon agrees that he could push Colin's wheelchair and then points to the robin. He whistles and the robin turns towards him. Dickon reassures the robin, and it makes Mary laugh. Mary knows that the robin will keep their secret when she catches its eye.
By noting that the robin is in on the secret, the novel situates him as one of the group of friends. This allows him to become even more human in Mary's eyes.
Themes
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon