The Secret Garden

by

Frances Hodgson Burnett

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The Secret Garden: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Several days later, Mary wakes up and is greeted by a brilliant blue sky that's brighter than any she saw in India. Martha cheerfully explains that the weather fluctuates this time of year with spring on the way. She says this in broad Yorkshire, and Mary curiously asks Martha to repeat herself. Mary remembers how the natives spoke different dialects in India, so Martha's dialect isn't necessarily surprising for her. Slowly, Martha explains what she meant and goes on to describe what the moor looks like when it's in full bloom. Mary asks if she'll ever be able to get onto the moor, and Martha points out that Mary is so weak she wouldn't be able to walk the five miles to get there.
When Mary remembers the different dialects from India, it suggests that she was possibly more observant while there than the novel has given her credit for thus far. It indicates that she did, to some extent, think of the native Indians as being different people with different customs. However, in her mind, they still all existed to serve her. She also previously declared to Martha that Indian people aren’t really people—a common colonial attitude rife with racism. Now that Mary is starting to feel better and be more curious, she's becoming interested in the moor. This speaks to the power of the fresh English air to heal her and banish her bad thoughts. The English sky is depicted as even more beautiful than the one in India, which is yet another expression of English superiority.
Themes
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Wistfully, Mary says she'd like to see Martha's cottage. Martha thinks that Mary doesn't look so sour now and says that she'll ask Mother if Mary might visit sometime while she's at home today. Mary says that she likes Martha's mother, even though she's never met her. She says that she also likes Dickon and Martha wonders out loud if Dickon would like Mary. Coldly, Mary says that he wouldn't like her because nobody does. Martha asks Mary how she likes herself. This isn't something Mary has ever thought of before. She says she doesn't really like herself.
The fact that Mary is now willing to express that she likes Martha's mother shows first that she's becoming more comfortable with Martha, as this is a new and scary thing for her to realize. Then, the simple act of liking a mother figure shows that this is exactly what Mary desires, whether she consciously knows it or not.
Themes
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Mary feels lonely knowing that Martha is gone. She heads outside, runs around the fountain ten times, and then finds Ben Weatherstaff. He's in a better mood and remarks that he can smell spring coming. Mary can smell it too, and Ben tells her that under the ground, things are starting to grow. He encourages her to watch for the seedlings coming up.
The change in Ben's attitude now that it's obvious spring is coming shows that spring is an invigorating time of year for everyone and everything, human and plant life alike. By encouraging her to look for seedlings, he asks Mary to notice things that mirror her own growth and development.
Themes
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The robin comes to visit, and when he cocks his head at Mary, Mary asks Ben Weatherstaff if the robin remembers her. Indignantly, Ben says that the robin is nosy and wants to know all about her. Mary continues her questioning and asks if flowers and roses are growing in the garden where the robin lives. Gruffly, Ben says that the robin is the only one who knows, as nobody's been in there for ten years. Mary walks away, thinking that she was born ten years ago. She also thinks that she likes the garden, just like she likes the robin, Dickon, Martha, and Mother.
Mary's realization that both she and the garden have been effectively locked up for ten years helps her identify with it and inadvertently point her towards looking for things that will help her grow. When she wonders specifically if the roses are growing, the fact that roses are symbols for children shows that Mary is, on some level, curious if she's growing and changing as well.
Themes
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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As Mary walks along the wall covered in ivy, she hears the robin in a bare flowerbed. He clearly followed her, and she happily "converses" with him. The robin lets her get very close and then hops under shrubs in the back of the garden bed. There, Mary notices a hole and sees a brass ring that is half-buried in the dirt. As the robin flies away, she pulls a key ring out from the earth and wonders if it's the key to the garden.
Finding a key ring because of a "conversation" with the robin shows Mary that when she befriends other beings, good things will happen to her and she'll learn new things. This impresses upon her the power of friendship and of the natural world to draw Mary into it.
Themes
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon