This book is about an eleven-year-old orphaned girl Pollyanna Whittier who can see the good in every situation even when others cannot. It is a story about optimism and positivity.
The story starts with Pollyanna leaving the Western town where she grew up because of her father’s demise. Her mother had also died a few years back and the only family she had left with included her mother’s sister Polly Harrington who lived in a big house in Vermont all by herself.
Aunt Polly was a forty-year-old single, stern, arrogant, miserable, cold spinster, and wealthy woman. Initially, she was reluctant to take Pollyanna into her house because Pollyanna’s mother, who was her sister, had eloped with Pollyanna’s father leaving her all alone to face the miseries of life. Later, her lover also left her, leaving Aunt Polly vulnerable. Ever since then, she liked to live alone. But she considered taking care of her deceased sister’s child as duty and therefore half-heartedly allowed Pollyanna to live with her. Pollyanna, on the other hand, totally unaware of her aunt’s intention, was very glad to stay with her aunt.
The story then progresses with Pollyanna’s countless disappointments at Aunt Polly’s house due to numerous strict rules and an unfriendly new environment. Even though she had been through so much hardship and heartache, she always tried to adjust and remain happy and positive by playing the ‘Glad Game’. The game was introduced to her by her father. In this game, you need to find something to be glad about in every situation no matter how bleak it can be.
With her ability to put an optimistic spin on the inconveniences, her cheerfulness, her funny ways, and her determination, Pollyanna started ruling the hearts of the people in the town. Everybody around her started playing the glad game. The little girl and her optimism changed the negative, gloomy, and unsociable attitude of people around her and thus making the town a healthier and more peaceful place to thrive in.
Towards the end of the story, even Pollyanna’s robust optimism was put to the test when she lost both of her legs in an accident. After the accident, that cheerful girl lay lifeless on the bed and wasn’t able to find anything to be glad about. But what goes around comes around. Listening to Pollyanna’s condition, the entire town started calling Aunt Polly and requested her to let Pollyanna know how impactfully she had brought happiness to their boring and negative life. Some even visited Pollyanna. Hearing this, Pollyanna started to feel glad again.
Lastly, the novel ends with Aunt Polly marrying her former lover Dr. Chilton. Pollyanna is sent to a hospital where after months of physical therapy she starts walking again.