Summoning forth the Stubborn-Gladness

A few books have come before this and many more after it – still Pollyanna, the 1913 Eleanor Hodgman Porter book, remains one of my all time favorites. Here is a compilation of some of my favorite lines in the book.

None of the words are mine. If you’re not familiar with the book, I hope the words here will instill in you a desire to read.

If you already know the story, I hope this concise list makes you want to dust off your copy and give it a read once again. I just did, and now I’m full of ‘gladness’ that I want to pass on to you.

Favorite Sections:

1: “Oh, of course, I’d be BREATHING all the time I was doing those things, Aunt Polly, but I wouldn’t be living. You breathe all the time you’re asleep, but you aren’t living. I mean living – doing the things you want to do: playing outdoors, reading (to myself, of course), climbing hills, talking to Mr. Tom in the garden, and Nancy, and finding out all about the houses and the people and everything everywhere all through the perfectly lovely streets I came through yesterday. That’s what I call living, Aunt Polly. Just breathing isn’t living!” ― Eleanor H. Porter

2: “I’ve got something besides the weather to think of. I don’t know whether the sun shines or not.”

Pollyanna beamed joyously.

“No, sir; I thought you didn’t. That’s why I told you.” ― Eleanor H. Porter

3: “Oh, yes,” nodded Pollyanna, emphatically. He [her father] said he felt better right away, that first day he thought to count ‘em. He said if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times [in the Bible] to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it – SOME.” ― Eleanor H. Porter

4: “It’ll be just lovely for you to play – it’ll be so hard. And there’s so much more fun when it is hard!” ― Eleanor Hodgman Porter

5: “Oh, but Aunt Polly, Aunt Polly, you haven’t left me any time at all just to- to live.” ― Pollyanna Whittier

6: “Miss Polly actually stamped her foot in irritation. “There you go like the rest,” she shouted. “What game?”

At last Nancy told her all about the story of how the crutches arrived instead of a doll, and how Pollyanna’s father had taught her that there was always something to be glad about.

Miss Polly couldn’t believe it. “how can someone ever be glad of crutches?” she demanded to know.

“Simple,” said Nancy. “In Pollyanna’s case, she could be glad she didn’t need them!” ― Eleanor H. Porter

7: “And most generally there is something about everything that you can be glad about if you keep hunting long enough to find it.” ― Eleanor H. Porter

8: “When you look for the bad, expecting it, you will get it. When you know you will find the good – you will get that….” ― Eleanor H. Porter

9: “Then you – weren’t lovers?” Pollyanna’s voice was tragic with dismay.


“And it isn’t all coming out like a book? . . . Oh dear! And it was all going so splendidly,” almost sobbed Pollyanna. “I’d have been so glad to come – with Aunt Polly.”

“And you won’t – now?” The man asked the question without turning his head.

“Of course not! I’m Aunt Polly’s!” ― Eleanor H. Porter

10: “I was growlin’ one day ‘cause I was so bent up and crooked; an’what do ye s’pose the little thing said? … She said I could be glad, anyhow, that I didn’t have ter stoop so far ter do my weedin’ – ‘cause I was already bent partway over.” ― Eleanor H. Porter

11: “You see, when you’re hunting for the glad things, you sort of forget the other kind – like” ― Eleanor H. Porter

12: “I wish I could prescribe her – and buy her – as I would a box of pills; – though if there gets to be many of her in the world, you and I might as well go to ribbon-selling and ditch-digging for all the money we’d get out of nursing and doctoring” ― Eleanor H. Porter

13: “…she had been too busy wishing things were different to find much time to enjoy things as they were.” ― Eleanor H. Porter

14: “In fact, I know that a ‘nice live little boy’ would be far better than – my skeleton in the closet; only – we aren’t always willing to make the exchange. We are apt to still cling to – our skeletons, Pollyanna.” ― Eleanor H. Porter

15: “Miss – Polly – Harrington!” he breathed. “You live with – HER!” “Yes; I’m her niece. She’s taken me to bring up – on account of my mother, you know,” faltered Pollyanna, in a low voice. “She was her sister. And after father – went to be with her and the rest of us in Heaven, there wasn’t anyone left for me down here but the Ladies’ Aid; so she took me.” The man did not answer. His face, as he lay back on the pillow now, was very white – so white that Pollyanna was frightened. She rose uncertainly to her feet. “I reckon maybe I’d better go now,” she proposed. “I – I hope you’ll like – the jelly.” The man turned his head suddenly and opened his eyes. There was a curious longing in their dark depths which even Pollyanna saw,” ― Eleanor H. Porter

16: “What men and women need is encouragement. Their natural resisting powers should be strengthened, not weakened…. Instead of always harping on a man’s faults, tell him of his virtues. Try to pull him out of his rut of bad habits. Hold up to him his better self, his REAL self that can dare and do and win out! … The influence of a beautiful, helpful, hopeful character is contagious, and may revolutionize a whole town…. People radiate what is in their minds and in their hearts.” ― Eleanor H. Porter

17: “Oh, yes; the game was to just find something about everything to be glad about – no matter what ‘twas” ― Eleanor H. Porter

18: “If a man feels kindly and obliging, his neighbors will feel that way, too, before long. But if he scolds and scowls and criticizes – his neighbors will return scowl for scowl, and add interest! … When you look for the bad, expecting it, you will get it. When you know you will find the good – you will get that…” ― Eleanor H. Porter

19: “Oh, I am glad. I think everyone should be married. And maybe, when you do get married, Aunt Polly will see how happy it makes you, she’ll be very glad to get married herself, then.”

“Glad this, glad that! Do you have to be glad about everything? What’s the matter with you, anyway?”

“Oh, lay off her, Angie. She’s not hurting you.”

“The way she goes on…”

“That’s enough! You heard her. Stop picking on the girl. Take that sherbert out and serve it the way you should.” ― Eleanor H. Porter

20: “I’m sorry about the dress, Aunt Polly. My father said it was a size too big, but that I should be glad it wasn’t a pair of boy’s trousers.”

“Well, that’s hardly anything to be glad about.”

“Well, my father always used to say…”

“Yes, well, never mind what your father used to say. Pollyanna, this is going to be your new home now, and I hope you’ll be very happy with me. Nancy will show you to your room.” ― Eleanor H. Porter

21: “I’m very glad you sent for me, Aunt Polly. Your home is very lovely.”

“Thank you.”

“It must make you awfully glad.”


“That you’re so very rich!” ― Eleanor H. Porter

22: “Honestly!”

“Did I say something wrong?”

“Well, let’s just say there are about sixty-eleven things you could’ve said besides that!” ― Eleanor H. Porter

23: “Is that Jenny Harrington’s child?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Doesn’t look a thing like any of the Harringtons. What’s your name, girl? Speak up!”

“Pollyanna Whittier, mam.”

“You’re a very fortunate little girl. Most children who have lost their parents would be sent to an orphanage. You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes, mam.”

“Thank your lucky stars for a good woman such as your Aunt Polly taking you in.” ― Eleanor H. Porter