Chapter III. The Laurence Boy

From the new Little Women 150 blog reflecting each week on a chapter in Alcott’s classic, here is chapter three:

Little Women 150

We are going to experiment this week by offering two different perspectives on the same chapter, both by distinguished Alcott scholars. The ways they complement each other, intersect, and diverge are fascinating. Enjoy!

Take One

By Eve LaPlante

In the gender-bending world of Little Women, the Laurence boy plays an important role. A lovely, compassionate, accommodating young man with a girl’s name, Laurie serves as a mirror to our heroine, Jo, a daring and ambitious young woman with a “gentlemanly demeanor” and a male-sounding name. It’s clear from the start that Laurie and Jo are a pair, two cross-gendered friends who seem more typical of the modern era than a century and a half in the past.

It seems fair to ask – given that Jo and her sisters were inspired by the four Alcott girls and that no Alcott boy existed (much to the dismay of Louisa’s father, Bronson) –…

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