February 29, 2016

Little Women Read Along :: Discussion Post :: Chapters 34-47


And we're at the final discussion! Hard to believe that February is going to be over after today, but what a fun month of reading it's been. This last portion of Little Women was fun, I really do like the story as a whole, but I have to admit that I didn't love part two as much as I loved part one. I'm not entirely certain why, but there you go. I can say, once again, that I enjoyed the book though! :) It's a quiet story, yet full of adventures and happiness. With a little sadness and growing up in the middle.

But this isn't my review, so let's get to the questions! Oh, and also I want to mention Suey, Kami, and Jenni and say a huge thank you to those ladies for hosting this read-along. As always, our discussions are lively and full of fun! Y'all make reading ever so much more awesome. :)

{Check out Jenni's post for more details about this final discussion and the upcoming watch-along of the 1994 movie.}

What do you think about the girls now? Has your opinion of them changed since the beginning or even the middle of the story?

I think they all grew up very well! Each of them had rough spots that needed smoothing and as life threw a few hardships their way, they each were able to grow into calmer, steadier, more settled women. They learned, through experience, that Marmee really was as wise as they thought. :)

As for my opinion of them, I think it did change. While I enjoyed watching them grow into who they were meant to be, it was their younger selves that I loved reading about the most. Something about their adventures together as young girls just stuck in my heart more than their older years. I could have definitely spent more time in part one. That's the part of the story that I think would be more relatable to my nieces and nephews, as I imagine reading this aloud to them. I will say that I definitely liked Amy better as an adult though.

At the end of the book, which character do you relate to most? Is it a different character than at the beginning?

Crazy as this may sound, I think I could relate to Jo better at the end. Not so much with the choices she makes and where her life goes, but more with her thoughts. Especially as she deals with loneliness and finding her spot as the family dynamics change. She spends a great deal of time in her head and I can definitely relate to that!

Yes, this is different than in part one, because there Jo is so much more opinionated and decided in her thoughts. She doesn't mind being the center of attention in the least and writes and writes at all hours of day and night. Which is so not me.

Do you think Beth should’ve died when and in the way she did?

Should've? I'm not sure I'd say that she should have died in any way at all! (I'd have been perfectly okay if she hadn't.) It was definitely a sad chapter that talked about her goodbyes. :( But death is such a part of life, so it makes sense that the March family needed to be touched by this somehow. Plus as was noted before, Alcott wrote this around the time of the Civil War, so death was very much a part of the experience of the young girls reading this story back then. Perhaps seeing the way the March's handled it may have helped some of them? I don't know, but I'd like to imagine that being true. I really appreciated that Beth got those final months to make memories for her family and for them to be able to say goodbye. Especially Jo. Although I do feel quite awful that Amy couldn't be there!

How do you feel about Laurie’s romantic decisions? Did his relationship with Amy seem developed enough to be sincere?

You'll have to see my lengthy response to the question about Jo below for my thoughts on the first question. But for the way the story ended up going, I do think he and Amy seem to fit. We don't spend every moment with them, but their relationship had many months and many letters and time spent together. So I think they had plenty of time to fall in love and was satisfied by their ending.

(Although I will say that I didn't think much of Alcott's foreshadowing, by having Jo mention she thought Amy would be perfect for Laurie. "Amy is left for him, and they would suit excellently..." That phrase felt horned in to me, because not just a moment before, Jo thought Beth liked him! And prior to this, I never noticed anything about Jo's responses or reactions to make me think she thought that way. I'm okay with Jo being happy with the idea of those two together, but I just hadn't seen any such feeling in her prior to this moment. It simply seemed a bit pointed.....but perhaps I'm just reacting to the whole Jo/Laurie thing...)

How do you feel about Jo’s romantic decisions? Do you think they were consistent with her character?

I'm a bit undecided on this now that I've officially finished the novel. As I was reading her thought processes during this time of her life, I could see how she came by her logic and why it worked for her. So I guess I'd say her decisions were fairly consistent with her character. But! I honestly don't think that Alcott wrote her this way in part one. As I've thought over it, it truly feels like Alcott was setting Jo up for Laurie. The way they treated each other, they way they were so aware of each other, the way they just seem to fit. Oh, I don't think they were thinking romantically through most of part one, but the way Alcott writes them as friends just makes your mind wander that way. (I can easily see why so many of her readers wrote asking if that would happen. It fits with the romantic ideals so many of us ladies have, especially when we're young.)

That being said, I also acknowledge that I'm reading this story with modern eyes and with modern "romantic tropes" in mind. So if Alcott truly wrote them this way, perhaps unconsciously, without realizing what her readers would surmise, I can give her that. (I also have to acknowledge that I read this story with the knowledge that Alcott hated the idea that readers wanted Jo and Laurie together and so decided to thwart those hopes. Not maliciously, maybe, but she did actively choose to give Jo to someone else.)

So! What I'm ultimately left with, is that through 75% of the story, especially during the first half of part two, Jo (it seems to me anyway) is actively written as someone who will not marry. In fact, at one point I was truly wishing that her story wouldn't go the way I knew it would! I could easily picture her as the spinster aunt, helping with her nieces and nephews, yet somehow, whether through writing stories or however, finding her place in the world and creating her own life. Which she did, just in different way than I'd been wishing for at that particular moment.

Yet! I can also honestly say that as I sped through the final chapters, I was actually quite satisfied with the way Jo ended up! And I do think Marmee had a great point that Jo and Laurie were a bit too much alike in temperament, especially with the way Jo was written as an adult. See what I mean? I can't seem to marry the two separate feelings together. So what I'm ultimately left with is that it sort of feels like we get two different Jo's in the book. I like them both, but I can't seem to meld them together....

What do you think about the names the girls and their husbands gave to their children?

Not really a fan of Demijohn. At all. And Amy's Beth...that's just really sweet.

If this was your first time reading Little Women, what do you think? Did it meet your expectations? Would you read it again? If this was a reread, do you feel the same as you did when you read it the first time? Or, has your opinion changed?

It's a wonderful story! I think it would make a fantastic story to be read aloud to children. Especially part one! :) It definitely met my expectations and yes, I would read it again. It will be interesting to see if my opinion changes with a reread.

Do you have a favorite quote or passage from Little Women?

"Touched to the heart, Mrs. March could only stretch out her arms, as if to gather children and grandchildren to herself, and say, with face and voice full of motherly love, gratitude, and humility-
"Oh my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!"

Would you change anything about the story if you could? If so, what?

I'm not really sure I would. Much as I clearly have feelings on the Jo/Laurie situation, I'm undecided whether I wish I could change that or not. I do think I'd be perfectly happy if the book had ended at part one. I really loved it the best!

Even though the setting for Little Women is quite different from today’s world, do you think we can learn anything from this story? If so, what?

Yes! Remembering that as one grows up, what may have seemed an annoying trait can be softened and/or changed. Also the importance of family and how much siblings and parents can be there for each other. Oh! And the fact that what you learn as a child (what your parents teach you), you never forget. :)


  1. Fantastic answers. I really loved reading through your thoughts on Jo and her adult self as well as how her character went. The more I read others' thoughts, the more I'm becoming okay with the ending. However, like you, I think the reason I have trouble with it is because I can't marry the two Jos together. I guess I'll just have to be content with both Jos and how their lives different from each other.

    1. Jenni: Thanks! I'm glad you understood what I was trying to say. I am okay with the ending, but I'm just not sure the two parts (and two Jo's) truly fit together in one person. I wish I could talk with Alcott and understand what she was thinking while creating these characters and where she wanted them to go and why.

  2. Great answers! I too liked your take on the two different Jo's portrayed.

  3. Like you, I enjoyed Part 1 better than Part 2. I like your answers overall as well. It seems that lively Jo seems so unusually tame at the end, but I am just glad that every girl's dreams came true, even if it was in unexpected ways. I am definitely planning to read this book to my girls when they are old enough. Whether they want to or not. ;)

    1. TJ: Yes! I'm very happy each girl's dream came true. They were all happy, satisfied, and comfortable at the end and that pleased me greatly. And I really enjoyed spending time with the March family and their adventures! :)

      What a great idea! I think it would be an excellent book to read with your girls. I've thought the same of my niece. Especially in part 1, there's such excellent adventures happening! A perfect read aloud. :)


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