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Free Study Guide: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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FREE BOOK REVIEW / SYNOPSIS: LITTLE WOMEN

Chapter 43: Surprises

Summary

Laurie and Amy come home with the news that they have gotten married. Aunt Carrol wouldn’t allow Amy to travel without a chaperone, and Mr. Laurence wanted to come home. Since Laurie couldn’t leave Amy behind, and Aunt Carrol wasn’t yet ready to return stateside, they decided to get married in Europe. Laurie tells Jo that he will always lover her, but acknowledges that the love is altered and the she and Amy have changed places in his heart.

While the family is admiring the new Mrs. Laurence, a knock comes at the door. The visitor is Professor Bhaer. The family immediately likes him although Laurie observes him with a little suspicion. The professor claims that he has come because he has business to tend. Jo is romantically drawn to him, but doesn’t realize it yet. The narrator leaves us with the knowledge that Jo is Professor Bhaer’s business.

Notes

(none needed for this chapter)


Chapter 44: My Lord and Lady

Summary

We get a brief inside look an Amy and Laurie in their home in the Laurence mansion. They discuss the possibility of Mr. Bhaer marrying Jo. Laurie isn’t jealous of the professor, but both are concerned about his lack of means. They long for a way to share their own wealth, but know that both the professor and Jo are too proud to accept obvious charity. They agree to watch for an opportunity and find a way to help Jo without her knowing.

Notes

In giving up her earlier intention to marry Fred for money and social status, Amy actually gains all the money and social status she could want and love along with it. The story for Amy and Laurie actually ends with this chapter.


Chapter 45: Daisy and Demi

Summary

The twins are visiting their grandparents and Jo whom they call Aunt Dodo. Daisy is a minature of Beth and Demi is an inquisitive and manipulative, lovable rascal. For him, his dignified grandfather will lie on the floor and twist his body to form the letters of the alphabet. Professor Bhaer finds Mr. March in this humorous position when he comes to visit one day. The children are aware of receiving less attention from Jo when "the bearman" is around, but they settle for climbing on him and searching his great-coat pockets for chocolates. On this particular day, Demi engages the professor in a discussion about girls, confessing that he kissed a little girl named "Mary" and she kissed him back. When Demi asks if "great boys like great girls" too, the professor acts embarrassed and gives an affirmative in a way that leaves no doubt about his feelings for Jo.

Notes

Little Demi makes a convenient devise for revealing Mr. Bhaer’s feelings for Jo quickly and easily. It is a little surprising that Mr. March had not previously devised his intentions. Jo’s affectionate reaction to Demi after Mr. Bhaer leaves reveals that she herself did not know how to gracefully acknowledge the feelings between them. The bluntness of the child creates a method for wrapping the story up rather quickly.



Chapter 46: Under the Umbrella

Summary

For two weeks Jo and Professor Bhaer meet each other daily when Jo goes for her evening walk to Meg’s house. Jo is afraid of being laughed at and tries to keep her feelings hidden, but everyone is aware of change in her.

Suddenly, with no goodbyes or explanations, the professor stays away for three days. One afternoon Jo takes her walk into town, saying she needs more writing paper and offering to do some shopping for Mrs. March. She soon wanders to a section of town that has nothing to do with her shopping, but she does not find Mr. Bhaer. It begins to rain, so she rushes toward home only to run into another pedestrian who happens to be Mr. Bhaer.

Mr. Bhaer holds an umbrella for her and the two exchange a variety of comments that alternately build and squelch their individual hopes regarding each other’s love. At length, Bhaer tells her that he has concluded his business and will be taking a professorship in a school in the west. At first he thinks she doesn’t care, but on the walk home, he sees tears in her eyes and asks the reason. She tells him it is because he is going away. The professor’s reaction is ecstatic; he offers his love even though he has no money to go with it. Before they enter the house, he proposes to her in the rain under the umbrella.

Notes

This chapter is the climax of Jo’s story.


Chapter 47: Harvest Time

Summary

Jo works and waits for a year while the professor fulfills his teaching obligation. After they are married they take up residence at Plumfield, the mansion willed to Jo by Aunt March. There Jo opens a school for boys.

The Bhaer school at last gives the Laurences opportunity to spend their wealth for a worthy cause. They have a knack for finding boys who need the attention of the boys’ home, and they always insist on paying "a trifle" for the support of the ones they send. Within five years of Jo’s marriage, the Bhaer’s have a lively home full of noisy boys, including two of their own.

Amy’s one shadow is that her only child is a frail little girl whom she fears losing, but Mrs. March encourages her to be hopeful. The story ends with the family all together-minus Beth-but with the addition of well-loved husbands and grandchildren.

Notes

The theme of true riches is nicely wrapped up in this final chapter. It is interesting that the one sister who succeeded in marrying rich is also burdened with an additional heartache in the form of a frail child. Jo’s home for boys creates the possibility of a sequel which LMA wrote later and was titled Jo’s Boys.


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