As much as I love Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Shirley, and Jo March, I'd have to say that Pollyanna sits near the top of my literary heroines list. “Pollyanna” as a cultural reference brings to mind visions of sugary-sweet cheerfulness, unrealistic optimism and trite Annie
-esque references about “the sun coming out tomorrow.” The urban dictionary goes as far as to refer to a Pollyanna-like person as absurd and naïve, with a self-righteous moral superiority.
I confess that I think Pollyanna gets a bad rap. But for those who have not read Pollyanna
and its sequel Pollyanna Grows Up
, I'll acquaint you: At age 11, Pollyanna is orphaned and sent to live with her Aunt Polly, a stern, unfeeling woman, who sees Pollyanna as her duty, a burden to endure. Pollyanna, an outgoing, talkative and curious child walks into this scenario with hope and optimism that few can understand even in the midst of mourning her beloved father. She brings her “glad game” “about finding something in everything to be glad about” and begins to share it with the people of the town. Her father, a pastor, created this game when battling doubt and discouragement. He was convicted by the "rejoicing texts" in the Bible, seeing that "if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it—SOME.”