Living in New England in the nineteenth century around the time of the civil war is the seemingly perfect, amiable March Family. In the novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, we follow the lives of the March Family. The four sisters are Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth. They live with their beloved mother and father. This novel mainly surrounds the lives of the four sisters who are newly living in poverty after their father gets drafted into the army. They help each other grow up as they make the transition from girls to women. They befriend Laurie, their energetic and once lonely neighbor who lives next door to the Marches with his grandfather, Mr. Laurence. The girls and Laurie go on many adventures together and take him in like a brother. The girls navigate their way through life and hold on to each other through love, loss, trouble, trauma, and laughter.
One of the many things I enjoyed about this novel is the strong feminine presence. Especially since,This book takes place during a time when women were very much in the background of society. The March sisters adhered to what was expected of them as young women, but also paved their own ways. Jo March, the second oldest sister and the main protagonist of the novel does not fit the classic stereotype of the women of the time, she’s outspoken, does not care for fashion, has a passion for writing, and does not plan to get married at a young age. Jo develops into a complex, loving character and makes the novel the amazing story that it is. We also get many historical facts about life in the nineteenth century, such as the clothing people wore, the modes of transportation, and how people went about their daily lives.
One of the most memorable moments of the novel is when Jo is confiding to her mom and seeks her advice. This is something the girls do continuously throughout the story when they are at a crossroads or are feeling sad. Jo finds herself having trouble managing her anger. This is a problem she struggles with early in the book. She goes to her mother and learns that she too has an anger issue. Together they work through it and Jo gains a new perspective on the problem. "I hope you will be a great deal better, dear, but you must keep watch over your 'bosom enemy', as father calls it, or it may sadden, if not spoil your life. You have had a warning. Remember it, and try with heart and soul to master this quick temper, before it brings you greater sorrow and regret than you have known today."'I will try, Mother, I truly will. But you must help me, remind me, and keep me from flying out. I used to see Father sometimes put his finger on his lips, and look at you with a very kind but sober face, and you always folded your lips tight and went away. Was he reminding you then?' asked Jo softly. 'Yes. I asked him to help me so, and he never forgot it, but saved me from many a sharp word by that little gesture and kind look'”(86-87). We see the sympathetic dynamic between the girls and their mother and how greatly they look up to her and hold on to her words.
Overall, this novel was very inspiring and interesting to read. Although it’s lengthy, it is still worth reading until the end. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to read classic American literature. This book teaches us that family and close friends are of utmost importance. With a strong supportive network of family and close friends any challenge can be tackled and any obstacle can be overcome.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Puffin Books, 1868. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!