The novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is about four girls living in the Civil War Era. While living in this time period, they have to deal with their father being away in the war and not being as fortunate as others around them. Each of the girls has their own personal battles, and the others around them help the girls to overcome those, and become ‘little women’. Watching Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy overcome their burdens is what has made this book a timeless read for women, and even men, for many years.
The book begins with the girls on the morning of Christmas, a holiday that is a time for happiness and selflessness. They start the morning by complaining about their problems, and how they will each buy themselves a present, since they wouldn’t be getting one from their mother. They soon realize that this is not what the holiday is about and buy Marmee, their mother, a Christmas present. Throughout the story, the little women befriend their wealthy neighbor, Laurie Lawerence who becomes a longtime friend to the March family.
While Marmee goes to help Mr. March in the Civil War, Beth is diagnosed with scarlet fever and Amy goes to live with Aunt March. Meg, the eldest sister, marries Laurie’s tutor, Mr. Brooke. Jo moves to New York, in hopes of giving Beth and Laurie a chance to fall in love and to write. She meets Professor Bhaer in New York, who gives her a Shakespeare book for Christmas. Jo goes home in the summer, and Laurie tells her how he feels, and she does not feel the same way. Soon, Laurie goes to Europe where Amy is, and Beth dies from scarlet fever. Laurie and Amy fall in love and get engaged as well as Professor Bhaer and Jo.
Jo March is the second eldest sister and the main character in the book. She isn’t as ladylike as the rest of the March sisters and isn’t afraid to say how she really feels. We see this when Laurie asks for her hand in marriage and she declines. She ends marrying Professor Bhaer, who shares the same interests in literature. Jo is a very independent person, unlike most of the other girls in this story. I enjoy how Jo is different than those around her, and isn’t afraid to stand out.
I consider myself to be very similar to Jo March. Growing up, I was a tomboy, much like Jo. I was always closer with boys than girls and dressed like a boy too. I have had a strong friendship with a guy my whole life similar to Jo’s relationship with Laurie. On occasion, I enjoy dressing up with my girl friends, but it is not always enjoyable for me as much as it is for them. Fashion is definitely not my strong suit. Also, Jo always has a strong opinion about things, and I can relate to that because I always have to put my two cents in. Unalike, I do not enjoy literature, which Jo is very passionate about. I am more of a science and math kind of person. I think that the character of Jo is an easy person to relate to in this novel.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott can be related to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. The main characters, Jo and Huck are both young and independent people during the same time period. They both meet someone to guide them on their adventures. Jo’s being Fredrick Bhaer and Huck’s being Jim. Jim acts like a father to Huck in the novel, and makes him realize that the South’s view on African Americans isn’t accurate. In Jo’s case, Fredrick encourages her aspirations in writing. They are also both an example of a coming of age novel.
A historical connection that I made from this book and what we studied so far this year is the Civil War. Both of these took place in the same time, which is the early 1860s. During our study of the Civil War we learned that the men in the families went to work in the war, much like Mr. March. Mr. March was a Union chaplain, which means he taught the catholic religion to the Union military. Because Mr. March was away, it left the rest of the family poor, which happened often during the years of the Civil War.
I noticed that in this book, the women didn’t get a college education; the only person who did was Laurie. This came to me as a problem because at that time women were not seen as being other than housewives, while men were the only educated ones. Now, it is the norm for both women and men to get a college education, but we still see men at a higher level of profession than women. Since the time period of this book, opportunities for women have gotten better, but there are still things that could be resolved.
I did enjoy reading this book because even though it was from the 19th century, I could relate myself to a character, which I didn’t think I would be able to do. The only thing that I did not like about this book was that it was lengthy for what the resolution of the story was. I enjoyed how the story ended with everyone being happy and marrying someone that shared interests with them. Jo and Professor Bhaer share an interest in literature while Amy and Laurie share an interest in art. The message that I took away from it was that if you set your mind to something then you can achieve it, like Jo with her love for writing. I would definitely recommend this story because I think it has a cool aspect of being relatable 150 years later, no matter how old you are.