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Little Women

Little Women
Louisa May Alcott
December 1994
Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1832.  Her parents, Abba May and Bronson Alcott had four daughters of which she was the second.  Raised in Concord Massachusetts, Alcott was educated by her father who was a preacher and social reformer.  Because of her father, she encountered writers such as Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau.  While growing up, like the March sisters, she worked at sewing, teaching, domestic service, and writing to make money for her family.  In 1862, she began working as an army nurse for the Union during the Civil War.  From the experiences she had doing that, Alcott published her first successful book, Hospital Sketches (1863).  Between 1863 and 1869 she published several Gothic romances and thrillers under a different name.  In 1869, using stories from her life growing up with her three sisters, Alcott published Little Women.  The book brought her fame, money, and inspiration to continue her writing.  She went on to publish; An Old-Fashioned Girl (1870), Little Men (1871), Eight Cousins (1875), Rose in Bloom (1876), Jo's Boys (1886), and various childrens' books.  Alcott also published two adult novels: Moods (1865) and Work (1873).  She died in 1888 in Boston after spending the last decades of her life working towards women's suffrage and temperance. 
Summary 1@ Chapter 1@ @chap1@
            The story opens in the home of the March family.  The four March daughters Meg (16), Jo (15), Beth (13), and the youngest Amy are complaining about not having money to buy Christmas presents.  Their father is away fighting in the civil war and the family does not have much money.  The girls each received a dollar to buy themselves something, but instead they decided to buy their mother, Marmee, presents.  When she came home, Marmee read the girls a letter from their father as they gathered around the fire.  The letter made them sad, and to cheer themselves up they began playing a game. 
Summary 2@ Chapter 2@ @chap2@
            They awoke Christmas morning excited.  Under their pillows, they each found matching books from Marmee, and they went down stairs to wait for breakfast.  Marmee came home and told them of the charity work she was doing with a food less family, and the girl decided to forgo their Christmas breakfast, and donate it to the family in need.  They helped Marmee pack up the food and they all delivered it together.  When they came home, they presented Marmee with a basket filled with things they had bought for her with their dollar.  Even Amy, who had wanted to keep part of the dollar for herself used the whole thing to buy Marmee a large bottle of cologne.  Marmee was exceptionally happy, and afterwards they performed a play that Jo had written.  When the play was over, the girls came downstairs and found the Mr. Lawrence, the rich man next store, had heard of their morning escapade and sent them flowers and candy.  The family celebrated the rest of Christmas night partaking in the banquet.
Summary 3@ Chapter 3@ @chap3@
            Meg and Jo were invited to a dance and party at the Gardiner's house.  They fussed over what they had to wear, and Meg went over rules of propriety with tomboy, Jo.  The curling tongs burned Meg's hair, but the girls went to the party anyway.  Meg proceeded to dance and to socialize, while Jo stood next to the wall.  When she thought someone was going to ask her to dance, she slipped into a curtained alcove.  Hiding already in the alcove was a young man who lived next store to the March's with his grandfather.  He introduced himself to her as Laurie, though his given name was Theodore.  He and Jo talked for a while, and eventually danced in the hall as to not display Jo's dress, which was not in the best shape Meg found them there. Meg had sprained her ankle dancing in her high heeled shoes, and they had to figure out a way to get home from the party since they had planned on walking.  As Jo was thinking of a solution, she ran again into Laurie, and told him of their predicament.  He offered the use of his own coach, which had just arrived, and Jo gratefully accepted.  With their escort, Hannah, Jo and Meg left the party. 
Summary 4@ Chapter 4@ @chap4@
    Mr. March lost most of his wealth trying to help one of his friends, and to help support themselves and their family, Meg and Jo got jobs.  Meg got a job in the King household taking care of the children, and Jo got a job being the companion to their rich Aunt March.  Since Beth was so shy she did not do well in school, so she stayed at home and helped Hannah around the house.  Amy was still in school and is the most selfish of the March girls.  Jo is rambunctious and gets along as well as she can with Aunt March and when the old lady goes to sleep, Jo raids the library and reads as much as she can.  Beth loves music and to play the piano, but wishes the family had more music and a better piano for her to play.  The girls are complaining about their lot in life, and their lack of money, when Marmee sits them down and tells them a story and shows them, that they have a lot to be thankful for in their life, such as family.
Summary 5@ Chapter 5@ @chap5@
    Jo decides to go out for exercise one day, intent on running into the "Lawrence Boy," Laurie.  Looking up into his window, she realizes he has been sick and throws a snowball at his window to get his attention.  He opens it and they begin talking.  Realizing that he has been lonely, Jo offers to come over and keep him company.  This excites Laurie, and he hurries to clean up his rooms before she gets there.  Jo asks Marmee permission and after receiving it and a few gifts to bring over to the sick boy, she walks to the house next door.  Jo spends the afternoon entertaining Laurie.  He is grateful, and when his grandfather gets home, the old man is very impressed by Jo and thankful she came to visit.  Laurie promises to come visit the March household when he feels better.  Being the consummate storyteller, when she returns home that night, Jo regales the family with her tales of the afternoon. 
Summary 6@ Chapter 6@ @Chap6@
    The March girls began going over to the Lawrence household and Laurie would come over and visit them.  Beth however was too timid and scared of old Mr. Lawrence that she would not set food in the household.  Mr. Lawrence found out about this and endeavored to set it right.  He visited the March household and said that anyone that wanted to use his piano would be welcome to do so and that it would not disturb anyone.  Beth was delighted at the permission to play the beautiful instrument as much as she desired and Mr. Lawrence would leave out music for her to play and practice.   After a time, Beth decided she needed to thank the old man, so she and with her sisters help made him a pair of slippers.  Mr. Laurence was so touched that he sends over a miniature piano that belonged to his dead granddaughter that he adored.  Beth was so touched that she went immediately to thank him, which surprised everyone, especially Mr. Laurence, because she was so timid.
Summary 7@ Chapter 7@ @chap7@
    While out one afternoon with her sisters, Amy laments about being poor to her sisters and they ask her why.  She tells them that it is fashionable at her school for girls to share and give away limes to other girls.  She so far, has excepted these gifts, but has not been able to return the favor.  Meg gives her a quarter so she can buy limes to share the next day.  Amy takes the limes to school and everyone is very excited that they will get to partake in her treat at recess.  Amy's archenemy, Jenny Snow, found out about the limes, and informed their teacher, Mr. Davis.  The previous week he had forbidden the limes.  He made Amy throw them out the window, and then he slapped her on the palm with a ruler, and made her stand for fifteen minutes up in front of the entire class.  Amy was so humiliated that at recess she went home and did not come back.  Jo went to collect her things, and Mrs. March said that she would look into a different school for Amy because she did not believe in corporal punishment.  Laurie while playing chess with Jo gave Beth a compliment on the music she had composed and she was extremely shocked and surprised that he knew she wrote music. 
Summary 8@ Chapter 8@ @chap8@
    Meg and Jo are leaving to go to the theater one afternoon with Laurie, when Amy realizes where they are going and decides she wants to go too.  She begs and pleads but Jo gets very cross and tells her that she was not invited therefor she cannot go.  Amy throws a fit and promises to make Jo pay for being so mean, and thinking nothing of it, Meg and Jo leave.  When they return home however, after having a wonderful time, Jo finds her the book she wrote that was filled with her fairy tales missing.  It is her most treasured possession that she had worked on for years.  She asks her sisters if they had seen it, and Amy confesses that she had it last, but threw it into the fire. Jo becomes extremely angry and attacks the child.  They pull her away and she vows never to forgive her little sister for being so selfish and cruel.  The tension between the girls is felt throughout the house for the next day, until Amy tries to apologize.  Jo refuses to accept however, and Amy feels more repentant.  Jo decides that the only thing to cheer her up will be going ice skating with Laurie, and Amy decides she should go along but does not tell Jo.  Jo however sees her chasing after them but ignores her.  When they are on the ice, Laurie tells Jo to stay away from the middle because it is thin, but Amy does not hear the warning.  Amy breaks through the ice and falls in the freezing river, and Laurie goes to save her with Jo's help.  They bring her home and she is safe, but Jo feels horribly guilty, but talks to Marmee who makes her feel better.  Jo decides that she needs to keep her temper under better control.  She goes to visit Amy and they make up. 
Summary 9@ Chapter 9@ @chap9@
    The Kings children fall ill, so they give Meg a holiday.  She is invited to stay with the Moffat family for that time for they are throwing a bunch of festivities for their children and their children's friends.  Meg is delighted, and Marmee says she may attend.  She gathers up her finest things, and her sisters lend her their treasures and she goes away for two weeks of socializing and partying.  After arriving however, Meg feels exceptionally poor only having one evening dress that is decent and a few other shabby dresses.   At the party one night she overhears girls gossiping about her relationship with Laurie who sent her flowers and her shabby dress. They endeavor for the next party to lend her a dress.  Meg is humiliated but when the next party comes, the offer is made so nicely that she consents to let the older engaged Moffat sister, Belle, dress her.  She looks beautiful and receives many compliments and admiring glances.  Laurie, who they invited to the party knowing he was a friend of Meg, disapproves however.  Meg begins to feel guilty and when she goes home, she confesses to Marmee and Jo how she had been ashamed of their lack of money, and how nice it had felt to be praised.  Marmee teaches her eldest daughters that happiness does not come from money, but from virtue and modesty.  She also tells them that all they need in life is a husband that loves them and a loving home. 
Summary 10@ Chapter 10@ @chap10@
    As warmer weather approached the sisters decided to make a secret club, the Pickwick Club (P.C.), and become members under different names.  Meg, since she was the oldest, was the president of the club, and every week they published a newspaper each with their own contributions.  One such week, Meg read the paper, and Jo proposed a motion to add Laurie as a new member.  Jo and Beth were in favor of it, but Amy and Meg were not.  Jo argued for him however and they finally consented.  Laurie popped out of the closet as a surprise and everyone was mad at Jo for not telling he was in there.  He then told them of the post office (P.O.) that was built in the yard between their houses, and it became a way for everyone including Mr. Laurence, Hannah, and the Laurence's gardener to pass notes and possessions. 
Summary 11@ Chapter 11@ @chap11@
            The first of June rolled around, and the family Meg worked for took a holiday for a few months.  Happy to be able to have some leisure time, the March sisters decided to have an experiment.  They that they would all spend a week doing no work whatsoever.  Mrs. March consented to the plan hoping to teach her daughters a lesson.  The first two days according to the girls were fun, though very long.  They began getting cross but no one would admit it.  The third day, Mrs. March stayed in bed and left the girls on their own for a day.  Hannah was not around also, so the girls had to do all of the cooking and cleaning.  Jo invited Laurie to dinner, and she tried to cook for the family but her dinner party was a disaster.  Beth's bird died because they forgot to feed it, and they held a funeral in the backyard.  By the end of the day, with Marmee's guidance, they learned that all work and no play is tiring, although the days go quicker.  But all play and no work makes life just as uncomfortable as well.  They agreed thankful they learned their lesson.
Summary 12@ Chapter 12@ @chap12@
            Beth had the job of delivering the mail from the post office and one day she came in with the usual nosegay for Marmee from Laurie and a single gray glove for Meg along with a translation.  Disappointed that the other glove could not be found, Meg was happy with the German song Laurie's tutor, Mr. Brooke sent.  Jo received a letter from Laurie that was actually an invitation for all the girls to go on a picnic the next day with him and his friends from England who were coming.  Every one was excited, and the next morning they were ready to depart.  The party consisted of Laurie, the March sisters, Mr. Brooke, Ned Moffat, Sallie Gardiner, and Laurie's friends from England, Kate, Fred, Frank, and Grace.  They set up "camp" and played croquet. Fred cheated and Jo got angry but held her temper.  After the game, they ate lunch and played games.  Kate made rude remarks about Meg being a governess and Mr. Brooke came to her rescue.  He talked to her and had her read a passage of German as he watched mesmerized.  The day was a success and everyone had a wonderful time.  Even shy Beth opened up and talked to Frank who was injured. 
Summary 13@ Chapter 13@ @chap13@
            One restless day, Laurie spied the March girls walking off together with bags in their hands.  Having nothing interesting to do, and craving a distraction, he followed them into the woods where he found them each working on a project.  Meg was sewing, Jo crocheting and reading, Beth was arranging acorns, and Amy was drawing.  When he was spotted, they said he could stay but he would have to make himself useful.  He took over Jo's job of reading.  After their story was done, they discussed what they would like to do with their lives.  Laurie wanted to live in Germany and be a famous musician, Meg wanted to have a beautiful house and be rich, Jo wanted to be a famous author, Beth wanted to stay at home, and Amy wanted to be a famous artist.  They then discussed Mr. Brooke who had given up his dreams to stay at home and take care of his mother.  Everyone thought well of him for it, and Laurie decided finally, that he too would do whatever it takes to make his grandfather happy, and that he would never leave the old man alone. 
Summary 14@ Chapter 14@ @chap14@
    Jo is writing frantically at her writing table when she declares to herself that she has done her best and leaves the house.  She walks down to the town newspaper office, and frets outside about whether or not to enter.  Finally she summons the courage and goes in, not knowing that across the street Laurie was watching from the pool hall window.  When she comes out, he corners her and asks her why she went.  She made him swear not to tell anyone, and he agreed.  She then told him that she had submitted two stories to the newspaper, and she would find out in a week whether or not they would be published.  In return for her confidence, Laurie told her that his tutor, Mr. Brooke was the one who had Meg's missing gray glove and he kept it in his side pocket.  Jo did not like that at all, and stopped liking Mr. Brooke.  She wanted her sister to be with a rich man so she could have nice things, and Mr. Brooke would never be rich.  Jo and Laurie raced down the road, and while she was recovering, Laurie gathered her hairpins that had fallen out.  Meg came upon them and chastised Jo for racing because it was unladylike.  A few weeks later, the girls were sitting in the parlor sewing when Jo offered to read them a story from the newspaper.  Everyone liked and she declared that she was the one who wrote it.  They all were excited, and she told them that she did not get any money for it, but it was publicity. 
Summary 15@ Chapter 15@ @chap15@
    November comes and the March sisters, Marmee, and Laurie are in the parlor when a telegram arrives.  Marmee opens to find a message saying Father was extremely ill, and her presence was requested immediately.  Everyone cries, and then jumps to action.  Marmee decides to take the train the next morning, and sends Laurie to send a telegram saying so, and to drop a note to Aunt March.  Everyone scattered with different tasks to do to prepare, and Beth went to tell Mr. Laurence.  He came back offering anything he could to help them, even to escort Marmee to Washington where her husband was located.  She told him that it was not necessary.  While Meg was preparing Marmee's things downstairs, she ran into Mr. Brooke who informed her that he had business for Mr. Laurence to do in Washington D.C. and that he would escort Marmee.  This plan seemed acceptable to all.   Evening came and everyone minus Jo was in the parlor again, waiting for the morning departure.  Marmee was worried because she did not know where Jo was so she sent Laurie out to look for her.  As he was leaving she walked in and handed Marmee twenty-five dollars saying it was her contribution to the family.  Marmee was astounded and asked how she had gotten the money.  Jo then took off her bonnet to show that her long glorious hair, "her one beauty", was cut short to her head.  She explained that she had sold her hair to the barber to make a wig.  At first, he was reluctant, but his wife convinced him because it was such a good cause.  The family was shocked, but Jo said that she preferred it short anyway, and the extra money would come in handy.  They went to bed, but Jo and Meg could not sleep.  Not thinking anyone was awake, Jo began to cry and Meg asked her if she was all right.  Jo told her how much she just needed to cry over losing her hair but she did not want anyone to know about it.  Meg told her to think of happy thoughts, and Jo asked her what were her happy thoughts.  Meg answered that they were of handsome faces and brown eyes, just like Mr. Brooke.  The girls then fell asleep and Marmee came in later to kiss them and pray for them.
Summary 16@ Chapter 16@ @chap16@
    Marmee and Mr. Brooke left the next morning for Washington D.C. and for the next week, they wrote letters back and forth between the girls and their mother.  Father was recovering, and Meg having to take over the position in the head of the household, was doing well.  Jo sent a straightforward letter describing her life, and the quarrel she had with Laurie.  She also sent a poem for father.  Beth, Amy, and Hannah all wrote letters as well informing Mr. and Mrs. March of recent events.  Mr. Laurence sent one as well saying that if she needed anything, do not hesitate to contact him. 
Summary 17@ Chapter 17@ @chap17@
    Everyone had spent the first week of Marmee's absence being perfect angels, but after that, things began falling apart.  Jo caught a cold, and Aunt March told her to go home until it was better.  Meg sewed most of the day, but did not get much done because her mind was other places. Beth came in one afternoon when Meg was sewing and Jo writing a story and asked if one of them would go check on the Hummels.  The Hummels were a poor family that Marmee usually went to help everyday.  Beth said she had gone everyday and was tired, but both Jo and Meg put off the task to pursue their own interests.  Beth later decided to go again, and when she came home, she told Jo that the Hummels baby had scarlet fever and had died in her arms.  Jo and Meg had both had the illness before so were in no danger, but Beth had not and became sick.  Amy also had not so they ordered her to go to Aunt March's until Beth was better.  She refused, but when Laurie was apprised of the situation, he convinced her to go.  Hannah told the girls not to telegram their mother because she did not think it would be very bad, and wanted not to add more stress on the parents.  They called the doctor, and Laurie and Jo delivered Amy to Aunt March who agreed to let her stay. 
Summary 18@ Chapter 18@ @chap18@
    The March house was grave as Beth's illness continued.  The doctor came everyday to check on her while Hannah and Jo kept watch over and nursed her.  Beth was "Jo's pet" and Jo was devastated by the potential loss of her.  Everyone who knew her was asking how she was doing and no one had known Beth had so many people as friends.  One day the doctor came and told Jo to telegram their mother.  Beth was doing very poorly and if her mother was going to come, it must be right away.  Jo, having a telegram prepared, ran off to send it.  She told Laurie the news then held his hand and cried.  She took comfort in his closeness and after her tears abated Laurie told her the good news.  He and his grandfather had decided that Mother should have been called for the day before, and they sent out a telegram.  They received one back from Mr. Brooke saying she would be home on the late night train, around two a.m.  Jo was overjoyed and ran into his arms.  He hugged her, then even kissed her, which she shied away.  She told everyone the news and they were delighted and waiting for their Mother to come.  The doctor said around midnight Beth would either take a turn for the better or for the worst.  When midnight came, they waited for some sign until finally Beth became still.  She was sleeping soundly, breathing easy, and her fever had disappeared.  Everyone rejoiced, and as they were doing so, Marmee arrived with Laurie. 
Summary 19@ Chapter 19@ @chap19@
    While all this was going on, Amy's stay at Aunt March's was a trial for her.  The old woman did not know how to handle children and Amy was miserable.  After a time she became friends with the French maid, Ester, formerly Estelle, and Ester let her play with all of Aunt March's old clothes and some jewelry.  Amy was fascinated by the jewelry and Ester confided in her that she and her sisters would be given the possessions when her aunt died.  Amy decided she would be very good for Aunt March so she could earn some of the nicest jewels.  Amy was overjoyed but still very sad about Beth.  Since Ester was Catholic and extremely pious, she told Amy that she found solace in her prayers.  At Amy's request, she built a small prayer room for Amy in a closet next to her room in which she could pray for her sister.  She also decided that she would make a will of her own, and had Ester and Laurie, when he came to visit her, be a witness to it.  Laurie told her sad news about Beth but informed her everything would be all right. 
Summary 20@ Chapter 20@ @chap20@
    Laurie gave the news of Beth and their Mother coming to Amy who was overjoyed for the state of her sister and her mother's arrival.  Amy was in the process of writing her mother a note, when Marmee showed up at Aunt March's.  Amy showed her mother her praying closet and Marmee wholeheartedly approved.  While there, her mother also noticed the turquoise ring on her daughter's finger.  Aunt March had decided that Amy had come along so nicely in her manners and behavior, that she gave the child the ring.  Marmee did not really approve of one so young owning it, but Amy told her she wanted to wear it as a reminder to be as good and unselfish as little Beth had always been.  Marmee agreed, and left Amy promising to come back to get her as soon as Beth was better.  When she was nursing Beth that night, Jo came into see her with a confession.  She told her about the Mr. Brooke having Meg's missing glove and that she was afraid that he would marry Meg and take her away.  While in Washington D.C., John (the Mr. and Mrs. March began calling Mr. Brooke by his first name) had professed his love for their eldest daughter, and asked their permission to love her.  He meant to earn a good sum of money so he could ask her to marry him.  The March's consented to this, though they agreed that their daughter was too young to be married or promised at least until she was twenty.  Mrs. March wanted to figure out how Meg felt about John so she began being more alert.  Meg walked in during their conversation but they ended it and did not tell her the nature of it.  Jo was still disappointed because she did not want any of her sisters to get married and leave her yet.  She also professed to Marmee that she had thought Meg could marry Laurie because he was rich and generous and would take care of her well.  Marmee told her that things would work out, and not to try to match up her friends. 
Summary 21@ Chapter 25@ @chap25@
    Meg and John Brooke have their wedding day, and it is a highly unfashionable wedding but no one cares. Everyone has grown up.  Meg is beautiful, Jo holds her tongue, Beth is fragile, and Amy is the epitome of grace.  Mr. March performs the wedding service, and Meg sewed her own dress.  After the wedding, Laurie goes up to Meg wondering where the bottles of wine were that he saw earlier, and Meg tells him that they do not drink wine, and she begs him not to as well.  Laurie concedes to never drink again, and everyone dances to celebrate the new couple.  As the Laurences are driving home, Mr. Laurence tells Laurie that she should marry one of the March girls.  Laurie agrees with him and touches the flower that Jo gave him.  Everyone watched as Meg and John walked to their little house, again giving them their love.
Summary 22@ Chapter 26@ @chap26@
    At the conclusion of her writing class, Amy decides to throw a party for her and the other girls.  Marmee advises her against it because the other girls are rich and she is afraid that Amy will be disappointed.  Amy employs the whole family to help her, and after the first day they plan is rained out, they prepare for the next.  The next day, Amy does not have much fun, but goes to get a lobster in town and runs into a friend of Laurie's.  She is slightly embarrassed to be caught shopping but because the man is a gentleman he makes nothing of it.  Only one girl of the fourteen she invited showed up to her party, and Amy has lunch with her and acts the perfect host.  They spend the afternoon driving around in a borrowed coach and Amy shows the girl the places she likes to draw.  At the end of the day, Amy thanks her family and has learned her lesson. 
Summary 23@ Chapter 27@ @chap27@
    Jo went to a lecture to hear a speaker, and while there, a boy gives her a story to read.  Jo does not think it has that good of a plot, but the boy tells her that the stories are very popular.  Jo sees a contest in the paper, and submits her own story for it.  She keeps the entry a secret and six weeks later she receives a check for one hundred dollars.  With the money she pays for Marmee and the still ailing Beth to go live by the ocean for a few months.  Jo continues writing and making more money and helping to provide for her family.  During this time, she is also fervently working on her novel, which she finally finishes.  She submits it to publishers and gets many comments on it.  After discussing it with her family, she decides to edit her novels so she can get it published.  She receives three hundred dollars and mixed reviews.  She learns a lot, and decides that she will start another as soon as she is ready.
Summary 24@ Chapter 28@ @chap28@
    Meg tried to be the perfect housewife for John.  She told him that anytime he wanted to bring a colleague home for dinner, that she would not mind, even if he gave her no notice.  One summer day Meg slaved over making jelly, but whatever she did, it would not jell.  John, not knowing of her troubles, decided to bring his friend Mr. Scott home.  When he arrived and told Meg that his guest was waiting outside, Meg blew up at his thoughtlessness.  She went into her room and cried as John and his guest ate.  Both felt the need to apologize but neither wanted to be the first to do it.  Meg finally caved in and peace was settled between them.  Meg began spending a lot of her time with Sallie Moffat and in doing so, began spending money.  Normally the things she bought were small but one day she found a silk dress that was on sale and bought it. She felt guilty immediately afterwards, and when she showed John her books at the end of the quarter, he was disappointed with her.  He canceled his own order for a new coat, which made Meg more guilty.  Finally, after being somewhat estranged from him, she went to Sallie and asked if she would buy the dress from her.  Sallie did, then gave her the dress as a gift, and Meg ordered her husband's coat.  Everything was better, and when Midsummer came along, she gave birth to twins.  The boy was named John with a nickname of "Demi" and the girl was Margaret who they called, "Daisy."
Summary 25@ Chapter 29@ @chap29@
    Amy has conned Jo into going calling with her and made her put on her nicest clothes.  Jo was less than enthusiastic but agreed to be on her best behavior.  They first went to the Chester's and Jo acted the lady, but would not answer any questions except with yes and no.  The Chester's thought she was dry and unresponsive and she told Amy she would do better at the next house.  They went to the Lamb house, and while Amy was listening to Mrs. Lamb, Jo was entertaining the other guests with embarrassing stories of Amy and her riding talent.  Amy gave up on Jo, and at the next house, they visited Jo sat outside with some young gentleman and some children.  Again, Amy was disappointed with her behavior.  The next two houses they went to, no one was available, so they decided lastly to visit their Aunt March.   Their Aunt Carrol was there as well, and the two older women seemed to be choosing between the two girls for something.  Finally, the older women decided that Amy should take a trip to Europe with Aunt Carrol, and Aunt March would pay for it.  Neither of the girls knew Jo was in a bad mood for having to go calling, so the girls went home. 
Summary 26@ Chapter 30@ @chap30@
            The Chester's had asked Amy to run a table at the fair they were throwing and Amy was extremely happy about it.  While she was setting up the day before the fair however, Mrs. Chester approached her.  She said that the table Amy was running should really go to her daughter.  Amy was disappointed, and knew that May, Mrs. Chester's daughter was mad at her for something.  She gave the table up gracefully, and succumbed to running the table that sold flowers that no one visited.  Hearing of her sister's misfortune, Jo enlisted Laurie and his friends to come and keep her company the following day.  The next day they all came and had a wonderful time, and at the end of the day, May Chester was ready to forgive and forget Amy for the grievance she had felt.  This made Amy happy.  The next week, Mrs. March received a letter from her Aunt Carrol asking Amy to accompany her to Europe.  Jo was disappointed that she was not picked, but tried to be happy for her sister.  Amy was ecstatic and planned to use the trip to start her off as an artist. 
Summary 27@ Chapter 31@ @chap31@
            Amy writes letters back to her family and in them, she describes the adventures she is having in Europe.  While in England she runs into Frank and Fred Vaughn who were Laurie's friends.  She spends a lot of time with them, and they show her London.  When Amy and her relatives leave to go to Paris, Fred joins them.  He travels with them from Paris to Germany, and Amy writes home to say she thinks he will ask her to marry him.  If he does, she plans on accepting.  He then had to depart for home because he received a letter saying his brother Frank was very ill.  Before he left, he asked Amy not to forget him. 
Summary 28@ Chapter 32@ @chap32@
            Mrs. March approaches Jo one day and tells her that something is wrong with Beth.  Marmee does not think that she is acting her usual self and Jo endeavors to find out the problem.  While studying her little sister one day, Jo realizes that Beth is in love with Laurie.  She wonders if it would be possible for Laurie to love Beth back.  Jo is excited by the idea, and tries to come up with a way to make the match.  One day she has a private conversation with Laurie in which he hints at his feelings for her, not Beth.  She then decides that it would be best if she got out of the way, so planned to move to New York for the winter to help one of her mother's friends.  Marmee agrees to the plan, and as Jo leaves, Laurie tells her he knows what she is doing, and that he will not have feelings for anyone but her. 
Summary 29@ Chapter 33@ @chap33@
            Jo writes detailed letters home about her life in New York.  Most of her letters however are about one man who she lives with that she finds exceptionally interesting, Professor Bhaer.  He is German and loves kids.  Jo befriends him and he begins teaching her German in exchange for her doing mending his clothing.  Jo tells Beth the take care of Teddy (her own nickname for Laurie who's real name is Theodore) and complains that he never writes her.  For Christmas, Professor Bhaer gave Jo a book of Shakespeare that she adored, and for New Years, she went to a masquerade party. 
Summary 30@ Chapter 34@ @chap34@
            Jo wrote a story and took it to a newspaper called the Weekly Volcano.  She left the story there, asking the man if he would look it over and consider publishing it.  He told her to come back in a week and a week later when she did, he told her he would publish it if she cut out all of the moral lessons in it.  Jo agreed and received twenty-five dollars for her work.  After that she continued writing "sensation" stories, and became more swept up in the lives of her characters she had to research.  During this time, she became a better friend with Professor Bhaer and one day as he was giving her a German lesson; Jo began laughing at him.  Upon his head, Tina- one of the children in the house that adored Bhaer- had placed a paper cap on his head.  When he discovered the paper, the professor laughed until he saw it was a sensation newspaper of which he did not approve.  Professor Bhaer made Jo feel guilty about writing for the paper, although he did not know.  What Jo did not know was that Professor Bhaer had guessed that she wrote for the papers.  After that Jo tried to write tales with moral, then children's stories, but neither suited her and she gave up writing for a time.  When June came along, it was time for Jo to go back to her family.  She said goodbye to everyone, and she extended the invitation to Bhaer to come visit her and her family.  Bhaer was going to miss her, and she him, and he told her that he would come.  Jo was happy because she had made such a good friend. 
Summary 31@ Chapter 35@ @chap35@
            Jo came home to see Laurie graduate from college.  Afterwards, they went for a walk and Laurie, though Jo begged him not to, profess his love for her.  He asked her to marry him, but Jo refused telling him that she did not love him.  He was heartbroken, and Jo was too for him because she did not want to break his heart.  Laurie asked her if she was in love with Professor Bhaer and she said that she was not and did not want to love anyone.  Laurie left her and went rowing to ease his pain.  Jo then went to Mr. Laurence and told him what had transpired.  When Laurie came home that night, Mr. Laurence acted gently towards him then finally told him that Jo had told him the story.  He suggested to Laurie that they take a trip to Europe so he could forget his troubles.  Laurie consented and spent the next few weeks while they prepared for the trip pining after Jo.  He watched her from his window, but other than that, he avoided her.  On the day of their departure, he said good bye to her and asked her one last time to be his.  She again said no knowing that she should not marry him if she did not love him, and he left.  From that day forward Jo knew that she would never have "her boy" again.  Laurie would forever be lost to her.
Summary 32@ Chapter 36@ @chap36@
            Jo took the money she had made writing for the paper and she and Beth went to the seashore.  When she had come back from New York, Jo realized that she saw a change in Beth.  She also realized that what she thought the previous fall was not true.  Beth was not in love with Laurie.  The thing that was making her act differently was that she knew she was dying.  After being away with her, Jo knew this too, and one day they talked about it.   Beth told Jo to tell their mother and father and Jo agreed to do it when they got home.  Beth also told her that she always knew that she would never reach adulthood because she never dreamed the dreams of the other girls such as marriage.  Jo agreed with her, and pledged to give her heart and soul to Beth while she was alive.  When they returned home at the end of the summer, their parents did see the truth in Beth and everyone was devastated. 
Summary 33@ Chapter 37@ @chap37@
            The following Christmas Laurie met up with Amy in Europe and both they went driving together.  Laurie would not talk about his experiences, but noticed Amy was as mature as ever.  Both noticed other pleasant changes in the other, and when a Christmas ball came along, Amy made special care to look nice for Laurie.  When he saw her Laurie was entranced and hovered over her as much as he could.  He tried complimenting her, but Amy preferred that he be blunt as he usually was, and at the end of the night, both had different thoughts about the other. 
Summary 34@ Chapter 38@ @chap38@
            As Meg began her life with her children, she made the mistake of forgetting life with her husband.  She neglected John and her housework to take care of the babies, and after a while John began spending his evenings away from home at the Scott's house.  Six months went by and nothing seemed to improve.  Finally, Marmee came over one day to find Meg crying.  She asked what was the matter and Meg told her that John never spent any time at home or with her anymore.  Marmee made her see that it was partly her fault for neglecting him, and told her eldest daughter to let John help more with the kids.  She also offered Hannah's services as a nurse so Meg could get a break from the babies.  Meg consented and when John came home, he found a prettily dressed and attentive wife.  Demi, however, made the evening difficult by refusing to go bed.  John stepped in however, and used his authority as father and made him go to bed.  Meg was thankful for the help, and that evening she tried discussing politics with him, which he was passionate about, and he was grateful for her interest.  She then told him about her conversation with her mother, and after that, the house became a much happier place for the both of them. 
Summary 35@ Chapter 39@ @chap39@
            Laurie spent a few months with Amy in Europe and through all that time, Amy began to like him less and less.  Because she was a lady however, she did not show her annoyance and spent the majority of her time with him.  One day they took a drive together so Amy could draw, and she brought up her problems with him.  She told him he was lazy, and that he was wasting his life away.  He shrugged her comments off for a moment until they actually started hurting him, and he realized then that the way he was living his life was wrong.  Amy discerned that his problems stemmed from a broken heart, and finally realized Jo was the one who had broken it.  They talked about it, and Laurie, still unhappy with but grateful to Amy for her comments, said he would change.   The next morning Amy found a note from him, saying he had neglected his duties long enough and he had gone back to his grandfather.  Amy was happy he was getting his life back on track, but sad to lose his company.
Summary 36@ Chapter 40@ @chap40@
            The family gave the brightest room in the house to Beth and filled with the things she loved.  Beth spent her last happy days giving away her things to little children who walked by the house, and in the warmth and love of her family.  Finally, however, she lost the strength to even sew and took to her bed.  Jo never left her side after this point, and slept on the couch or on the carpet of her room.  While Jo was sleeping there on evening, Beth opened a book by her bedside, and out fell a poem that Jo had written about her.  Beth read it, astonished that she meant so much to her sister, and that her life helped someone.  Jo awoke, and Beth asked her about it.  Jo told her that everything she said in the poem was true, and this more than anything, touched Beth.  Early in the morning, Beth drew her last breath, and died peacefully in her mother's arms. 
Summary 37@ Chapter 41@ @chap41@
            To ease his pain and sorrow, Laurie tried composing music and then an opera.  The main character in his Opera was Jo, but he could not seem to make her as wonderful as he remembered her.  After a time, it was hard for him to remember her at all, and Laurie was angry with himself for that.  One day he made a revelation however, and decided that if he could not have the one sister, he would take the other.  He began writing Amy regularly, and after they both received the news of Beth's death, he went to her.  Fred Vaughn came back and asked Amy to marry him, but she refused.  When Laurie arrived in her time of grief, she was exceptionally grateful to see him.  They passed many days in each other's company, and when they were out on the lake rowing one day, Laurie asked Amy to marry him.  She accepted. 
Summary 38@ Chapter 42@ @chap42@
            At home, Jo was desolate.  She missed Beth more than anything and started to feel a large void in her life.  She was growing up and with that came a desire to do more.  Her mother suggested that she start writing again, but she said that she did not have it in her.  She tried however, and wrote a beautiful story for her family.  Her father sent it to a magazine and they published and praised it.  The family received news of Amy and Laurie's engagement, and Jo was happy for them.  However, she began aching for love of her own.  While going through some of her childhood things, she found a book that Professor Bhaer gave her, and began missing him.  She wished he would come and visit her. 
Summary 39@ Chapter 43@ @chap43@
            Jo is sitting by the fire feeling sorry for herself when she falls asleep.  In her dreams, she sees Teddy and feels even more lonely.  She wakes up with a start to realize that she is not dreaming of Teddy's presence, but standing in front of her.  Ecstatic, Jo asks him when he came and he explains that he and his wife, Amy, just arrived and that Amy was with their mother at Meg's.  Jo was happy to see him, and Laurie told her that he would always love her, but now his love was more like a sister.  She and Amy changed places for him.   Jo was happy for him, and lonely for herself.  Everyone came home including Meg and her family, and Jo went downstairs to answer the door when someone knocked.  Standing there was Professor Bhaer and Jo made him come inside, although the Professor protested because he heard there was a party upstairs.  Jo introduced him to her family, and everyone immediately loved him.  The house settled down, and both Jo and the Professor continued to look at each other although they did not speak much.  Laurie and Amy went home, as did Meg's family, and Professor Bhaer went back to his room in town, asking Jo if it would be alright if he came back another time.  She agreed and was excited at the prospect.
Summary 40@ Chapter 44@ @chap44@
            Laurie and Amy return to their house and discuss the relationship between Professor Bhaer and Jo.  Amy asks Laurie if he would mind if they got married, and Laurie said that he would not. Their only wish is that the Professor would have more money, and they tried to devise a plan on how give him money.  The two rich young lovers are exceptionally happy, and talk about how they will live their life together.  Amy plans on doing a lot of charity and giving help to poor young girls like she once was, who are trying to get into society.  Laurie agrees with her that they should share their wealth. 
Summary 41@ Chapter 45@ @chap45@
            Meg's children were everyone in the family's angels.  Demi was exceptionally bright, and Daisy was very devoted to her brother.  He loved his extended family, especially his Aunt Dodo as Jo was called, but Aunt Dodo liked the 'Fessor more than them. One day, while over at his grandparents house, Demi told them that he had kissed a girl.  Professor Bhaer, who was visiting at the time, laughed at this, and Demi asked if great people like to kiss each other too.  Bhaer evaded the question looking at Jo, and later Jo gave him a Demi a big hug for his efforts. 
Summary 42@ Chapter 46@ @chap46@
            Professor Bhaer came everyday to the March household and often took walks with Jo.  Everyone around her began to see the changes that were taking place in her because of this.  She was falling in love.  After a few weeks of seeing him everyday, the Professor did not come for three days.  Jo began to be cross, and decided to go into town to run errands, though she really wanted to run into the Professor.  Marmee asked her to pick up some things, and told her to take her umbrella because it was going to rain.  Jo, in her haste, forgot the umbrella and as she was wandering around town, the Professor found her and shielded her with his.  He went shopping with her, and on their way home, Jo began crying because he told her he was leaving.  Professing his love for her, Bhaer asked her to marry him and Jo agreed joyfully.  Bhaer left town to make his fortune out West so they could afford marriage, and Jo waited patiently. 
Summary 43@ Chapter 47@ @chap47
            Aunt March died and left Jo her estate.  Jo was grateful and instead of selling it like everyone thought she would, she decided that she and Bhaer would open a school for both rich and orphaned boys.  The school was a success, and after five years, she had a wonderful life, and children of her own.  The family was all out picking apples from the orchard one day, when they realized that everyone's "Castles In The Sky" had changed, but all of the girls were sublimely happy with their lives.  They thanked their mother who was also there, for the lessons she taught them because the little women they were had grown up to be the happiest women imaginable. 
Character Profiles
Meg:the oldest of the March sisters, Meg is plump and beautiful.  She is sweet tempered and motherly, and has a penchant for pretty things.  She likes to sew, and does her best at running a household, though at times she has trouble.  She battles with being poor because she wants so much to have nice things, but adores her family and later her husband. 
Jo:the main heroine of the book, Jo is the second oldest sister and a tomboy.  She adores writing of any kind, and plans as a girl to make her fortune with her pen.  She is quick-tempered, but tries hard to be good and pleasing to her parents.  She takes Laurie under her wing and helps to raise him into the man he becomes.  She is often self-sacrificing, and has a strong maternal connection over her sister Beth who she adores.  She is exceptionally dependable, and when their father is away, she acts as the man of the house. 
Beth:the quiet sweet-tempered angel of the family, Beth does everything she can to make the house a happy place.  She is shy, and adores playing the piano and singing.  She loves cats and dolls, and takes care of both with a fervor. 
Amy:the youngest of the March sisters, Amy is at first selfish and spoiled.  Destined to be the sister who becomes a Lady, Amy concentrates on making herself better than their poverty-stricken life.  She is an artist who loves to portray beauty in all things.  As time goes on, she tempers her nature and becomes a mature loving woman, who puts away her greed for money, and acts more out of her heart. 
Mrs. March (Marmee): the mother of the four March sisters, Marmee is the guide of the family.  She appears to have infinite wisdom and patience, and an exceptionally charitable nature.  She wants nothing more than her daughters' happiness, and knows how to teach them the lessons they need to achieve that happiness.  Once a gentlewoman, Marmee knows that there is more to life than riches, and lives off the love of her family and not of money. 
Mr. March: A soldier for the north in the civil war, Mr. March is the family's spiritual guide.  When t he military releases him due to injury, he comes home to be a pastor.  Mr. March is very philosophical and bookish, and his family adores him. 
Theodore Laurence (Laurie, Teddy): Befriended by Jo, Laurie is the grandson of the March's next door neighbor.  He is impulsive, sensitive, and quickly to temper.  He is also kind and caring towards all of the March sisters. He adores music, is a pet to Jo, and is a gentleman, though he does not look down on the March family for their poverty. 
Mr. Laurence:the rich next door neighbor to the March family, Mr. Laurence becomes like a grandfather to the girls.  He is kind, and gives them gifts such as Beth's piano.  Beth becomes his special pet, and though the old man can be gruff and intimidating, the March clan and his headstrong grandson love him. 
Hannah:the march's servant and helper, Hannah is their to help the family with all their needs.  She cooks, cleans, and instructs the girls with lessons in life along with Mrs. March.
Aunt March: a crotchety old rich woman, Aunt March is both a blessing and a plague to the March sisters.  She leaves her things to the girls when she dies, and pays for Amy to go to Europe for a few years.  She employs Jo to keep her company, and hides her sentimental generous nature behind a hard exterior. 
John Brooke:originally Laurie's tutor, Mr. Brooke falls in love and marries Meg.  John is kind and poor, but works hard.  He is exceptionally bright and patient and he has a passion for politics. 
Fred Vaughn: a friend of Laurie's who comes from England to visit.  He later courts Amy when she is visiting in Europe.
Frank Vaughn: Fred twin, Frank is delicate and sensitive and when he is visiting Beth spends her time talking to him and taking care of him.
Kate Vaughn: Fred and Frank's older sister who looks down upon Meg who makes Mr. Brooke stand up for her. 
Grace Vaughn: girl Amy's age, who Amy visits in Europe when they are there.
Sallie Moffat:friend of Meg who is rich and whom Meg envies for her things. 
Professor Bhaer: a middle aged man that Jo meets while staying in New York.  He is German and wonderful with children.  Everyone he meets loves him. 
Daisy and DemiJohn: Meg's twin children who light up their mother's life.  Demi is rambunctious and bright, and Daisy likes to take care of her brother. 
Castles In The Air- Jo's synonym for the girls hopes and dreams.  The castles are what the girls' wish they could do or be and they are in the air because it is not always possible to "go live in them" or make them come true.
River- In a poem that Jo writes for Beth before her sister's death, the river stands for Beth's death, and crossing it is the crossing into heaven or the afterlife.
Harvest Time- just as when plants grow ripe on the trees and fall, Harvest Time for the Marches is when all the girls are fully grown and living separate lives from their parents.  Since her teaching and guidance was so good, Mrs. March's harvest time was a happy one. 
Little Women is a coming of age story of four sisters in Civil War New England.  Together they face hardships and poverty all the while trying to reach their Castles in the Air.  More than that however, Little Women is a morality tale.  Each chapter not only contains the lives and adventures of the four sisters, but lessons on how to be a good person, and how to achieve happiness in life.  These values are centered upon God, family, and love.  Though money, people, hair, and childhood dreams come and go, Marmee's wisdom about happiness never seems to falter.  The dreams of the writer, artist, and pianist in the family all fall behind the happiness they find in their respective households. 
            In some respects, Little Women is also a child-rearing guidebook.  When Marmee's harvesting time came, she had three happy well-rounded children and a fourth with God.  Each lesson she taught was not just told to them, but demonstrated, and enforced with kindness and with love.  She inspired her girls to be the best they could be, and did not try to change them even if they were as awkward and tomboyish as Jo.  Most importantly, she let them make the choices for their life and did not sway their decisions once the girls made them. 
            Little Women today remains a classic because it shows that every young person goes through trials and decision points.  Death's of loved ones, family crisis's, and the mending of broken hearts are something all young people go through and are acturatly portrayed in Alcott's novel.  Most importantly, readers today remain inspired by Jo's commitment to her writing, Meg's devotion to her family, and Beth's willingness to help the ones she loves. 
1) "I'm the man of the family now Papa is away." (5) When arguing who should buy their mother the slippers, this statement shows Jo's personality as tomboyish, responsible, and proud.  She is proud of her manly qualities that her other sisters abhor.
2) "Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well.  Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life become a beautiful success, in spite of poverty." (118) This statement is a good example of one of Marmee's many valuable life lessons for the girls.
3) "I always said she was a little saint." (136) Meg talking about her sister Beth.  It is a good quote because it shows what kind of person Beth is and how much she means to her family.
4) "Wouldn't it be fun if all the castles in the air which we make could come true and we could live in them?" (142) Jo talks about the hopes and dreams of her and her sisters. 
5) "As she spoke, Jo took off her bonnet, and a general outcry arose, for all her abundant hair was cut short." (161) Jo cut her one beauty and sold it to a wig maker to make money for her family when their father was ill. 
6) "Beth is my conscience, and I can't give her up; I can't! I can't!" (186) Jo telling Laurie how much her sister Beth means to her when Beth is sick and why Jo takes it so hard when she dies. 
7) "You've got me, anyhow.  I'm not good for much, I know; but I'll stand by you, Jo, all the days of my life; upon my word I will." (234) Laurie tells Jo when Meg announces her engagement. 
8) " 'It isn't a mere pleasure trip to me, girls,' she said impressively, as she scraped her best palette. 'It will decide my career; for if I have any genius, I shall find it out in Rome, and will do something to prove it.'" (308) Amy says this about her impending trip to Rome, and though she turns out not to be a great artist, her future is decided by the end of her trip. 
9) "He isn't old, nor anything bad, but good and kind, and the best friend I've got- next to you.  Pray don't fly into a passion; I want to be kind, but I know I shall get angry if you abuse my Professor.  I haven't the least idea of loving him, or anybody else." (363) Jo's impassioned speech about Professor Bhaer to Laurie when he tells her his love for her. 
10) "Not half so good as yours, mother.  Here it is, and we never can thank you enough for the patient sowing and reaping you have done." (490) Jo thanking their mother for raising them and teaching them all they needed to know to survive life and it's lessons.


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