Chapter XVIIII. Amy’s Will

from the LW 150 blog: “Amy’s Will” – very interesting account of Amy’s Catholic moment.

Little Women 150

By Monika Elbert

I am interested in Catholicism and the rosary’s presence within this very New England novel. In “Amy’s Will,” the Gothic momentarily intrudes in Aunt March’s household, where poor Amy is a captive slave in her role as attendant to the old woman. Aunt March’s maid, Esther, the “French woman” who is forced to change her name from the more Frenchified “Estelle”—“on condition that she was never asked to change her religion”—brings a sense of exoticism with “odd stories of her life in France” (192) and with her Catholic customs. Amy goes through Aunt March’s treasure trove of jewelry and chances upon a rosary, which she mistakes for a fine piece of jewelry. Indeed, it is the piece she most desires: she looks “with great admiration at a string of gold and ebony beads, from which hung a heavy cross of the same” (193). Esther concedes that she “covets” it as well…

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Happy Birthday to two bigger-than-life minds and hearts: A. Bronson Alcott and Louisa May Alcott

Father and daughter, polar opposites in temperament. Both brilliant (he metaphysical, philosophical; she practical, from the heart). Both spiritual (Communion with The Spirit vs. "practical Christianity"). Both prolific writers. Both bigger than life. The Alcotts loved celebrating birthdays. Abba wrote back in 1851, "I seldom omit these occasions for showing my children the joy I …

XVIII. Dark Days

From the LW150 blog: When “no” means “no” and “yes” means “yes:” Jo’s directness teaches an important lesson.

Little Women 150

By Marlowe Daly-Galeano

As an adult reader, I think the most important relationship in the “Dark Days” chapter is Jo and Beth’s. The anguish that Jo experiences during Beth’s illness stems from her awareness that she may lose the companionship of her dear sister. When Beth finally pulls through the threatening fever, Jo and Meg “[rejoice] with hearts too full for words.” Yet, when I was a young reader, the sisters’ relationship in this chapter mattered far less to me than the relationship between Jo and Laurie. In fact, if you had asked my junior-high self what was significant about “Dark Days,” I would have rolled my eyes and answered, “The most important part is the kissing.

For years, I thought of this as the chapter that revealed the chemistry between Jo and Laurie, the proof (in those few kisses) that they belong together. And, yes, I know you…

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The rise and fall of Bronson Alcott, in his own words

In pulling together my research for my biography on Elizabeth Alcott, I found the need to comb through Richard Herrnstadt’s enormous volume containing the vast majority of Bronson Alcott’s letters.* It requires a great deal of time to go through anything related to Bronson not only because of the amount of pages but because of …

XVII. Little Faithful

From the LW150 blog: “Little Faithful:” The cost of ambition; the cost of faithfulness

Little Women 150

By Anindita Bhattacharya

Louisa May Alcott has immortalized American girlhood in her nineteenth century novel Little Women. The narrative reflects Louisa’s own very ambivalent views on womanhood with a curious juxtaposition of didacticism, sentimentalism, and feminism. Whether it is Jack and Jill: A Village Story or Behind a Mask, her ‘women’ are always struggling to strike a balance between fulfilling their womanly duties and nurturing their ambitions, and also being sufficiently punished for such predilections.

The seventeenth chapter of Little Women represents this conflict through the episode with Beth. It begins with the girls giving themselves a little ‘holiday’ from all the household chores and responsibilities in the absence of Marmee. Meg promises to watch over her sisters, Jo agrees to help everyone and refrain from her brash manners, Beth avows complete faithfulness to the little duties at home, and Amy pledges obedience in Chapter Sixteen when Marmee leaves for…

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Treasure trove for students of Alcott

Remember that phrase from "Peanuts" by Charles Schulz - "Happiness is"? Happiness is ... spending the afternoon perusing in-depth articles on the Alcotts. Pages and pages of articles by the finest Alcott scholars covering a wide variety of topics. All of these can be found on jstor.org. You do not have to be affiliated with …

XVI. Letters

from the LW150 blog: Reading old family letters, whether from our own ancestors or the Alcott family, creates powerful connections.

Little Women 150

By Jean Stevenson

My introduction to Little Women came when I was eleven and “between” books and my regular visit to the public library. My mother rescued me by handing me her copy of the novel, saying, “I was your age when I read this. You might enjoy it.” Like many readers, I found myself captivated by Jo and the March family. My reading of Alcott’s novel coincided with a unit on the Civil War in school, so Jo’s account of the home front, her father’s service to the Union Army as a chaplain, and Marmee’s travel to Washington to care for him when he fell ill became real to me and further fueled my interest in the Civil War.

This led me to explore the trunks in my grandparents’ attic in search of evidence of family involvement in the war. On the top tray in a trunk I came…

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