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Little Women > First Impressions

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message 1: by theduckthief (new)

theduckthief | 269 comments Mod
Some of you, like me, may have never read this book before. What do you think of the first 50 pages?


message 2: by theduckthief (new)

theduckthief | 269 comments Mod
It's interesting to see what Hollywood does to the book. I've only ever seen the adaptations so I was intrigued to see Meg described as plump and Laurie described as having dark skin and eyes.

And I always thought of Mr. March as being involved in the fighting but here he's a pastor.


message 3: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) Alcott opens the story by revealing that the four March sisters are unhappy with their domestic lives. All of the girls want something greater than their limited existence (that 19th century society offers them). Mr. March’s letter inspires the girls to bear their burdens quietly, that their task is to become humble, good, and dutiful.

In their personalities, the four girls differ. Virtuous Meg, unhappy about their lack of money which she once had, still wants to purchase "things" that in society would make her desirable; outspoken Jo, is unhappy that she is not a boy; shy Beth, the least selfish daughter, is unhappy that her father is not home, but "counts her blessings" to be happy with what she has; and vain Amy, like Meg, hates their poverty status, she wants to have expensive things so others would envy her.

Both Jo and Laurie resist the typical roles of men and women. Jo, in the plays she writes, takes the role of the hero (usually male roles). She also has a pet rat -- how popular would that be with other 19thC girls? At the New Year’s Eve ball, Jo wears a dress (symbol of traditional femininity) which is marred by burns (anger -- Jo’s objections to traditional femininity). Jo and Laurie meet at the Gardiners’ party, they quickly become friends (they share similar interests). Both hate their names, she prefers "Jo" to the very feminine "Josephine." He prefers "Laurie" over "Theodore" because his friends tease him and call him “Dora.” Jo prefers writing stories, plays and a newspaper (stereotypically masculine) and Laurie pursues music (considered a feminine pursuit). Both Jo and Laurie reject their "roles" dictated by society and because they are different from others, and are similar to each other, they become good friends.

Pilgrim's Progress is a guide for Christians on their journey to reach the "Celestial City". But Alcott chose not the first book but the second -- about his wife and children and neighbor, Mercy. Alcott chose the second because she is talking to women. But does she see her novel as a guide for 19th century women? Is it her statement that everyday women struggles are just as important as the struggles of the everyday man?

The scenes I liked were:
1) where they gave up their Christmas breakfast for a poor, starving family. Later, Mr. Laurence gives them a treat for their charity work;
2) finding under their pillows their own little "Pilgrim's Progress" book as a Christmas present from Marmee;
3) Jo and Laurie dancing together in a hidden place, enjoying the party their own way;
4) Jo visits Laurie with "food, kittens, and trinkets" and unknowingly insults his grandfather regarding his portrait;
5) that Beth showers great love over all the "cast away/ broken dolls".


message 4: by Sadie (new)

Sadie This was the first time I've read this, and I really enjoyed it. It may even be ranked among my favorites. I loved the characters as well as the themes addressed in the book. So many are still applicable to today.


message 5: by theduckthief (new)

theduckthief | 269 comments Mod
I'm reading my copy from a book that includes "Good Wives", a continuation of the Little Women story. But I've found in places that it's actually supposed to be part of "Little Women". Can anyone tell me where their copies end so I know how far to read?


message 6: by Sadie (new)

Sadie my copy ends at a garden party/ birthday party for Mrs. March and the ending scene is where Mrs. March puts her arms around all her girls and grandchildren and says some sentiment of hoping this for her girls.


message 7: by theduckthief (new)

theduckthief | 269 comments Mod
Awesome thanks Sadie!


message 8: by Sadie (new)

Sadie I just realized that my book was also broken into 2 parts, but I didn't think anything of it. I read both parts. DuckThief the first part ends how Catherine has said, but I would suggest reading both parts.


message 9: by Lisa (new)

Lisa catherine:

Little Women is a story about Alcott and her family, in Concord, Massachusetts. I think lobster is easier to get in New England than other places, although I agree, it seems pricey. But maybe it wasn't then, I don't know.

The reason it sounds preachy is because it is; Alcott is always writing about the love of family and overcoming troubles and worries together, not lying to your parents, not being a flirt, etc. But in opposition to this -- and, I believe, the real reason why Alcott preaches -- is her view of women as undervalued by men and struggling to establish some sense of identity, trying to hold on to themselves and what they know is right, when they know they have more to offer the world than what they're given the opportunity to do. She mentions the evils of corsets quite a lot, too :)

I love this "saccharine" atmosphere -- it's cozy, comfortable, sincere; it wraps me in the illusion that life always has a safety net ready to catch you if you fall, that family will see you through absolutely anything, whether it's parents, siblings, spouse, children, whatever, just that intense human connection.

I think Alcott felt stifled by society and found liberation through her writing, but her family and genuine friends were very dear to her, and she wanted to reflect that.


message 10: by Sadie (new)

Sadie As far as the lobster goes, it wasn't a luxury food item for quite some time. I understand that lobster was for the poor folk, and the fisherman ate it while they sold their other catches to the rich. It was definately considered a dish for the poor for quite some time, and I'm not exactly sure when it made it's transition into a delicacy.


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