Mary starts out as quite a self-centered girl, preoccupied with her own feelings and opinions about everything. She is blunt and demanding, insisting she will not eat porridge because she hates it, expecting Martha to dress her, thinking that she needs better, proper food, because of her importance. She is quite blunt with her cousin, but also trying to help him heal from his miseries. Mary forces him to face the truth about their parents and pull away from his self-deceptions. She believes she killed her mother, because “I wished her dead.” As the story goes on, she becomes warmer, more concerned with others and their needs, and fascinated with her secret garden. She’s so eager to heal Colin, she doesn’t always think about his feelings about things (such as that he might not want to see where his mother died, or touch her things, or see her photographs, or think about her). Unlike in the book where Mary took things at face value, this one wrote up and performed stories for her mother even at a young age. She is forever daydreaming and imagining things, changing the rooms and places around her into magical, wondrous glimpses into an imagined past. She discovers a photograph about their mothers and derives an entire history from it, leaping to a conclusion about Colin not being as sick as he thinks he is, and “knowing” that his mother would not want him to live this way. She believes her aunt chose to die in the garden because of its beautiful, and “gave it her magic,” so it can cure her son. Mary sees what Colin could be, and tries to push him toward it, literally invading his room and hauling him around in his wheelchair. She believes fantastical things without evidence; upon first hearing mysterious cries in the night, she assumes it’s a ghost. Mary has flashbacks into her own past, as she learns to reinterpret her memories through the letters she found (at first, based on her own limited, subjective experiences, she cannot believe that her mother ever truly loved her, or understand her severe depression).

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Mary thinks she was unloved and unwanted, and blames herself for killing her (“I wished for her to die and she did… I am her murderer”). When her uncle threatens to send her to school, Mary decides that she will live in the garden and “be all alone again.” At first, she is hateful, selfish, and angry much of the time. She doesn’t concern herself with wanting to be pleasant or good, but as she matures, she becomes more interested in the welfare of others and in sharing what she has discovered with them. Mary feels just as wronged by life as Colin, and responds defensively that her mother is also dead. She distracts herself with fanciful notions and daydreams. She can be elitist, arrogant, and condescending, but also is confident in pursuing what she wants. Unlike her cousin Colin, she is not afraid to go out into the world to find answers.