The Secret Garden

by

Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Mary's Pretend Garden Symbol Analysis

Mary's Pretend Garden Symbol Icon

The few times that the reader sees Mary playing while still in India, Mary is pretending to garden by pushing cut flowers into the ground as though she were planting them. This pretend garden symbolizes several things. First, it's understood that this garden, like Mary, won't grow; the flowers will die soon after being plucked and put in the soil without water, just as Mary cannot think, grow, or feel creative in India's hot climate. In this way, the garden comes to represent how stifling and inappropriate India is for a child like Mary. On the other hand, the fact that Mary is engaging in this kind of play foreshadows her interest in the secret garden once she arrives in England. With this, the play garden also comes to represent the potential for growth and curiosity, as well as the interest in the natural world, that the novel suggests exists within all children.

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Mary's Pretend Garden Symbol Timeline in The Secret Garden

The timeline below shows where the symbol Mary's Pretend Garden appears in The Secret Garden. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...missing. She's left alone for the morning and tries to amuse herself by making a pretend garden , though she also mutters about the names she's going to call her Ayah. As... (full context)
Chapter 2
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...are about Mary's age. They infuriate her, especially Basil. One afternoon, as Mary creates another pretend garden , Basil tries to make suggestions about landscaping elements. Mary shouts at him, but Basil... (full context)
Chapter 12
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...seems to shock Mr. Craven. She goes on and says that she used to make pretend gardens in India. Mr. Craven paces, tells Mary that she can have as much earth as... (full context)