As Belle enters into town to go to the bookstore there are a chorus of greetings that great her every step. People poke their heads out of windows and doors as she passes by to send out a welcoming, “Bonjour!” However, Belle’s boredom is still evident in the way that she sings about how it is the same every day in this “poor provincial town.” The first ray of excitement that appears on Belle’s face is when the baker addresses her as more than just Bonjour! Belle quickly walks over to begin speaking to him. When the baker prompts her with, “Where are you off to today?” Belle takes that as a sign that he is interested in an actual conversation with her. She quickly starts to tell him about how she is off to the book shop, because she just finished the most wonderful story! As she starts to tell him about the beanstalk and the ogre of her story—he cuts her off and then returns to his morning activity of getting the bread out. This is obviously both disappointing and unsurprising to Belle as she quickly shrugs this dismissal off with a flourish of her hands and moves quickly throughout the rest of the town. As she is passing through the rest of town there are more and more townspeople who seem to pop out of the wood work when Belle passes. The ever following presence of isolation continues to follow Belle throughout the town and is made more apparent by the two gossiping women who make the observation that she is strange simply because she is always distracted. It always circles back to how beautiful Belle is and how it is a shame that she is just so strange. This continues when more and more townspeople are interacting with each other and avoiding contact with Belle.
People milling around me saying hello to me as I pass by, but still looking at me with that same wariness in their eye. I am different and they see it too. Someone says hello and asks where I am off to. I get excited and start to explain that I am going to go finish the chapter in my book that I have been reading. Her eyes glaze over as I speak and she dismisses me and goes off to continue her play.
I continue on to my solace, a small little bench that is under the patio that affords shade and an area that doesn’t have running children are milling around. I sit and immediately delve into my book, shutting out the outside world and the sounds that would distract me from the world of Anne of Green Gables. Wit, friendship and a world all outside my own are playing across my mind as I read and I continue to dive in, not realizing what is going on around me or the words, stares and gestures that are being made about me and what I am doing.
All of the seclusion that Belle felt in the town leads us to the one place that Belle feels truly comfortable, the town’s humble library. There she says hello to her one and only friend in town, the sweet good-natured librarian who also shares Belle’s enthusiasm for literature. After the morning greetings and finding out that Belle has come to return her book that she borrowed the day before. The librarian says, “Finished already?” And Belle follows after with an exuberant, “Oh I couldn’t put it down, have you got anything new?” My favorite part of this whole scene starts when the librarian laughs and replies good naturedly, that he doesn’t have anything new since she was in the day before! Belle, who was already well aware of this, has been searching for another book on the shelf and pulls out her favorite book and proclaims that she will borrow that one. The librarian who knows all too well that she has read that twice before proclaims this only to be told, “Well its my favorite! Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells and a prince in disguise!” The librarian then tells Belle that if she loves it so much that she may have it! Belle can’t seem to believe what he is saying and tries to refuse only to have the librarian steadfast on his decision that she should keep the book. If you like it all that much it’s yours! But sir! I insist! Well thank you, thank you very much!! Belle then takes the book and hugs it to her chest like it is her prize possession, a book that she has already read twice before. However, the kindness of one person in town is enough to make her fly into her favorite world. She dives into the world of her book as she walks through the rest of town.
As I am reading one of my friends walks up to invite me to join them in the game of tag. I look at her and tell her, I would love to but I am reading this amazing book about the adventures of a young orphan girl and how she makes her way into the hearts of the towns people and into the hearts of her family. My friend tries to look excited but ends up tearing away while I’m in mid sentence to run after the others in the game. I have lost her to the rest of the day and I am back into my own world, but that is okay because I love my own world.
Belle continues her stroll through town and she is vigorously reading through her book until she sits down to rest on the fountain. Then with a dreamy far off look she sings to one of the sheep that has been captured by her sweet disposition and beautiful singing voice. She tells the sheep about her favorite part of the story, where the princess meets prince charming, “but she won’t discover that it’s him till chapter 3!” The sheep are very similar to the townspeople, at first captured by her beauty and her beautiful voice but as she continues on they grow bored and move on to other things. One of the sheep even goes as far to take a bite from a page in her book and then continues on its way after the herder. Now, at this point Belle is out of the picture as the scene goes to a bald woman in a wig shop trying on hats and wigs while singing about the attributes of Belle and how, “its no wonder that her name means beauty, her looks have got no parallel. But behind that fair façade, I’m afraid she’s rather odd. Very different from the rest of us is belle!” After the bald woman is done singing we pan back to Belle, who now has made it clear why her name is Belle as several of the men in town start to gawk and help her as she walks by. Sadly, they continue to state, despite their obvious infatuation, that she is still so strange and that they wish that she would be more like them. Belle, all the while, is still completely oblivious to all but her book as she makes her way through town.
The taunts that were directed at me were swirling all around me and I only looked up from my book for a moment to see where they were directed. I quickly realized that they were directed at me and that I was, “strange” and “weird” for being in the world of my book that I loved. Comfortable with who I was I continued to read my book and enjoy the safety and comfort that it created for me, and the buffer that it created around me. I dive into the world of my book as the world falls away again.