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Free Study Guide: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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LITTLE WOMEN: ONLINE STUDY GUIDE / CRITICISM

POINT OF VIEW

The point of view is decidedly omniscient, and utilizes the stylistic awareness of a reader. The narrator, on numerous occasions, informs the reader of what will be coming in subsequent chapters or elaborates on lessons the girls learned from their mistakes. For a modern reader used to a less intrusive approach on the part of the narrator, the elaboration tends to get monotonous and could even be interpreted as didactic. Before exercising too much criticism of LMA however, we must remember that at the time nearly all literature intended for girls was in the form of diaries, poetry, memoirs or sermons. Of course there were the tabloid newspapers, but these were not intended for young readers of any sex. Most religious groups in the northeast frowned heavily on fiction, entertaining the philosophy that the primary purpose of all literature was to teach. Certainly LMA’s father would have been of this persuasion.



STUDY QUESTIONS

1. Why does Jo drop her writing after she marries Professor Bhaer?( Simply being busy with the boy’s home is probably not the only reason.)

2. Characterize each sister at the beginning and at the end of the story. What were the major events that effected the changes in each?

3. The novel has several frame stories or "plots within a plot." Discuss two or three of these, and mention the similarities and differences among them.

4. Why doesn’t the narrator give Mr. March a more active role in the family once he is home? He is certainly capable of working once he regains his health.

5. Jo’s "castle" includes a stable full of Arabian steeds and a magic ink stand. As Jo is usually very practical about things, why is her dream life one of fantasy?

6. How is the spirit of female independence both promoted and subdued in the novel?

7. How typical is the role of Mr. March when he is compared with other males in the story?

8. Is the narrator successful in her attempts to denigrate the lifestyles of the wealthy?

9. Does the angelic character of Beth "work"?

10. What is ironic about Jo’s inheritance of Plumfield?


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