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Free Study Guide: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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Chapter 30: Consequences


Amy works at the Chester fair where she initially helps to set up the art table. May Chester is jealous of Amy’s items and convinces her mother to take the table away from her and send her to a less popular flower table that is slightly out of the mainstream of the traffic.

Amy’s first day is miserable as the young girls who are supposed to work with her are more of a hindrance than a help. The flowers wilt and she makes few sales. She goes home hurt and discouraged but resolves that she will not show it. The next day she carries out several acts of kindness and generosity toward May Chester. Her behavior is noted, but she still has a difficult day as her helpers desert her and her flowers wilt in the hot sun.

On the last day of the fair, Laurie and his friends come to Amy’s rescue. Hayes, the Laurence’s gardener sends her the best flowers of the garden; then Laurie appears with all of his gentlemen friends and they buy everything that Amy has. Once she has sold out, Amy orders the young men to go to the art table and buy May’s painted vases.

The fair is pronounced a success. A week later Amy receives her reward in the form of a letter from Aunt March. Aunt Carrol is going abroad with cousin Flo and has asked Amy to go with them. Jo is heartbroken, but remembers the rude and saucy words that brought the invitation to Amy rather than to herself.


Amy’s trip to Europe extends the plot, preparing the setting for Amy to have a brief casual relationship with Fred Vaughn and eventually fall in love with Laurie. The journey motif is introduced her for Amy.

Chapter 31: Our Foreign Correspondent


Amy writes a series of letters from Europe and England. In England she meets up with Laurie’s English friends, Fred and Frank Vaughan. Later Fred travels with Amy’s party throughout France. Fred speaks French fluently and takes Amy everywhere. One night they go for a sail on the Rhine River and a group of students serenade them. Amy begins to think of Fred as something more than a traveling companion. In her letter home, she confesses that she is not truly in love with him, but she does like him and they get along comfortably. She resolves to accept Fred if he should propose to her. Later he has to leave as Frank is in poor health in England. He asks Amy if she will be there when he comes back, and she implies that she will be available.


This is foreshadowing in reverse. Amy has an opportunity to realize her "castle," and to explore her art more extensively. When exposed to the museums of Europe she realizes that "talent isn’t genius" and that her interests in art will never make her rich or famous. And, although Fred will return, Any will have had opportunity to realize that money alone is not reason enough to get married.

Chapter 32: Tender Troubles


Marmee is concerned about Beth who seems very quiet and is sometimes seen crying. She asks Jo to keep an eye on her and to find out what’s wrong. Jo thinks the problem is just that Beth is growing up. A few days of observation and some coincidental remarks about Laurie convince Jo that Beth is in love with Laurie, but that she is hiding her feelings because she believes Jo wants Laurie. Laurie himself is in love with Jo and tries to court her at every opportunity. Jo finally decides to take a trip to New York where Mrs. Kirke, an old friend of Marmee’s, has been looking for someone to work as a governess for her children. Hopefully, this will give Beth an opportunity to draw Laurie’s attentions toward herself.


Jo’s innocence of Beth’s real problem is a little contradictory here; of course, Jo may simply be in a state of denial as she had noted Beth’s condition in earlier chapters and had expressed concern. However, the narrator omnisciently communicates with the reader in leaving no doubt that Beth’s trouble is not "love lornity"; the eventual death of Beth has gone beyond foreshadow. We know that it is just a matter of time even though the characters in the story don’t appear to realize it yet.

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Ruff, Dr. Karen S C. "TheBestNotes on Little Women". . 09 May 2017