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Little Women

Little Women Summary


Here you will find a Little Women summary (Louisa May Alcott's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

Little Women Summary Overview

In the heart of the 19th century, four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March, sit despondently in their home, bemoaning their financial predicament. As Christmas approaches, they initially plan to treat themselves to presents, but soon decide to buy gifts for their mother instead. Their father, a chaplain in the Civil War, sends a letter that inspires the girls to bear their hardships graciously. The girls discover books under their pillows on Christmas Day and are encouraged by their mother to donate their breakfast to a needy family. Their act of charity is rewarded by their enigmatic neighbor, Mr. Laurence, who sends over a feast. The sisters' holiday season concludes with a party invitation from a wealthy friend, where Jo meets Laurie, Mr. Laurence's grandson. Jo forms a friendship with Laurie, and eventually introduces him to her sisters. Beth, the third sister, forms a special bond with Mr. Laurence, who gifts her his late granddaughter's piano. The sisters endure various trials and tribulations: Amy is punished at school resulting in her mother withdrawing her from the institution; Jo's resentment towards Amy leads to a near-drowning incident; and Meg learns the superficiality of appearances at a party where gossip circulates about her marrying Laurie for his wealth. In the midst of these adventures, the March sisters form a family club, publishing their own newspaper, and integrating Laurie into their gatherings. The close-knit family is jolted when they learn their father has fallen ill in the capital. In her haste to assist her parents, Jo sells her hair to contribute funds for the journey. In her absence, the sisters fail to keep up with their responsibilities, except for Beth, who contracts scarlet fever from the needy family they had previously helped. As Beth hovers between life and death, the family is reunited with their recuperating father. Amidst the turmoil, love blooms between Meg and Mr. Brooke, Laurie's tutor. As time moves forward, Meg marries and starts her own family, while Jo pursues a writing career in New York, where she also declines Laurie's proposal. Jo's return home is marred by Beth's death. However, love blossoms again as Amy marries Laurie and Jo finds herself hoping for a marriage proposal from Professor Bhaer, a German language teacher she met in New York. Their eventual marriage, coupled with Jo transforming her inherited property into a boys' boarding school, ends the tale on a hopeful note, with each sister grateful for their blessings and familial bond.


"Little Women" starts with a quote from John Bunyan's classic book "The Pilgrim’s Progress," which tells a symbolic story about following Christian beliefs. The quote is about the book's female character, Mercy, not the lead male character, Christian. This suggests that Alcott's book aims to serve as a guide for young girls.

chapter 1

In the middle of the 19th century, on a cold December evening, the March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—lament their financial struggles. Once wealthy, their family lost its fortune and the girls are not expecting any Christmas gifts this year. Meg, a nanny, wishes for presents despite their situation, and Jo, a book enthusiast and Aunt March's companion, desires a particular German book. Beth hopes for new music, while Amy yearns for drawing pencils. The sisters share their predicaments about their work and personal issues; Meg and Jo express frustration with their jobs while Beth is tired of housekeeping and Amy is unhappy with her nose. Deciding to lift their spirits, the sisters plan to buy themselves Christmas gifts. But they soon reconsider and opt to buy presents for their mother, Marmee. As they discuss Jo’s upcoming Christmas Day play, “The Witch’s Curse,” Marmee arrives with a letter from their father, Mr. March, who is a Union chaplain in the Civil War. The letter implores his 'little women' to be virtuous, causing them to regret their earlier complaints and vow to embrace their challenges more cheerfully. Meg’s vanity, Jo’s temper, Beth’s housework, and Amy’s selfishness are their identified burdens. Marmee then proposes they play Pilgrims, a game from their childhood inspired by John Bunyan’s novel The Pilgrim’s Progress. The game, similar to the novel, mirrors the journey of leading a Christian life where each girl bears a burden, symbolic of real-life challenges, en route to the Celestial City, symbolizing heaven. Agreeing to play the game but applying its principles to their daily lives, the sisters decide to practice Christian virtues. They end their day singing before they retire to bed.

chapter 2

On Christmas day, the sisters discover books beneath their pillows. They look for their mother downstairs but Hannah, their maid, informs them that Marmee is assisting needy folks nearby. When Marmee comes back, she persuades them to gift their Christmas breakfast to the impoverished Hummel family. They willingly comply and find joy in their charitable act. Later, they stage their play, with Jo taking up masculine parts. Post their performance, they discover a lavish spread of food, complete with flowers and ice cream, waiting for them. Their kind-hearted neighbor, Mr. Laurence, had arranged the feast as a gesture of appreciation for their morning altruism. Jo expresses a desire to meet Mr. Laurence's grandson.

chapter 3

Jo spends time in the attic reading, accompanied by her pet rat, Scrabble, and eating apples. Meg interrupts her, revealing that they've been invited to Sallie Gardiner's New Year’s Eve party. Meg is thrilled, but uncertain about her outfit. Jo, on the other hand, isn't as enthusiastic, but agrees to attend. Preparations for the party bring various mishaps: Jo accidentally burns Meg’s hair while curling it, Meg chooses to wear overly tight shoes, and Jo must don a dress that has a burn mark on the back and keep her gloves in her hand to hide lemonade stains. To help Jo act appropriately at the party, Meg devises a signal system: raised eyebrows for improper behavior and a nod for ladylike actions. At the event, Jo feels out of place and retreats behind a curtain when she thinks a boy is about to ask her to dance. There, she bumps into their neighbor, Laurie. They strike up a conversation and soon feel at ease with each other. They even dance, albeit away from the crowd to hide Jo's burned dress. Meg ends up spraining her ankle and Laurie graciously offers to escort them home in his carriage. Once home, Meg and Jo excitedly recount their party experiences to their younger sisters.

chapter 4

Following their holiday celebrations, the girls struggle to return to their daily tasks. Meg is hesitant to resume babysitting the King children, while Jo is unenthusiastic about caring for Aunt March, who forces her to read dull books aloud. Despite Aunt March's stern demeanor, Jo has a fondness for her due to their shared stubborn nature. Jo also appreciates the array of books left by Uncle March as it makes up for Aunt March's tedious reading sessions. Beth, the most introverted of the March sisters, remains at home, diligently carrying out household chores and maintaining her collection of slightly damaged dolls. Young Amy attends school but is upset about her insignificant nose. The sisters share a close bond, with Meg having a soft spot for Amy, and Jo for Beth. They entertain each other with stories from their day upon finishing their work. Marmee shares some wisdom about appreciating what one has in life. Jo lightens the mood by quoting Aunt Chloe, a character from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, encouraging gratitude for one's blessings.

chapter 5

During a snowy day, Jo decides to clear a pathway when she spots Laurie through a window. She gets his attention by hurling a snowball at the window, and he reveals that he's been sick. Sympathetic, Jo decides to visit him after getting her mother's approval. Arriving at Laurie's place with food and small gifts, they spend the afternoon chatting and laughing. Laurie confesses his loneliness and desire to befriend Jo's family. He impresses Jo by revealing his grandfather's library. When Laurie has to see his doctor, Jo is left alone in the room, where she inadvertently insults a painting of Mr. Laurence, thinking he's Laurie. However, Mr. Laurence appreciates Jo's honesty and they quickly become friends. He urges Jo to stay for tea, believing it would be good for Laurie. After having tea, Laurie plays the piano for Jo, which angers Mr. Laurence as he disapproves of Laurie's musical interests. Back home, Jo shares the details of her wonderful day and the beautiful house to her family.

chapter 6

The March sisters begin frequenting the Laurences' home. Meg finds joy in exploring the greenhouse, while Amy is captivated by the art on display. Beth, though enchanted by Mr. Laurence's piano, is still intimidated by him and does not dare to venture deep into the house. Mr. Laurence, aware of Beth's apprehension, reassures her that the house is usually vacant during the day and nobody plays the piano. Consequently, Beth starts visiting the house in daylight to play the piano, unaware that Mr. Laurence often leaves his door ajar to listen to her music. Beth's piano playing reminds him of his late granddaughter, stirring up fond memories. As time passes, Beth crafts a set of slippers for Mr. Laurence as a token of thanks. Touched, he reciprocates by gifting her his granddaughter's small piano, eliciting great joy in Beth. Jo suggests to Beth that she should express gratitude to Mr. Laurence in person, doubting her timid sister would do so. Surprisingly, Beth does exactly that, marching straight to Mr. Laurence's house and planting a kiss on his cheek. This act cements their friendship.

chapter 7

Amy finds herself in a predicament at school involving the exchange of pickled limes, a popular trend among her peers. Unfortunately, she's unable to reciprocate due to financial constraints. Meg, feeling sorry for Amy, lends her some money to buy limes. Amy denies Miss Snow, her rival, any limes which leads to retaliation. Miss Snow reports Amy's lime collection to the teacher, who had previously banned them in school. As punishment, Amy is forced to discard her limes, endure a strike on her hand, and stand in front of the class till break time. When recess arrives, Amy rushes home and informs her family about her ordeal. While they believe she deserved punishment for breaking the rules, they are dismayed by the physical aspect of it. Consequently, Marmee grants Amy a break from school, suggesting she learn at home alongside Beth.

chapter 8

Jo and Meg are attending a play with Laurie, which Amy also wants to join. However, Jo curtly tells Amy she can't come as she wasn't invited. Amy, upset, warns Jo that she'll regret this. At the play, Jo feels guilty about how she treated Amy. When they get home, Amy ignores Jo. The next day, Jo's manuscript is missing and she learns Amy has burned it. This was Jo's most prized possession and she swears never to forgive Amy. Even after Amy's apology and Marmee's advice not to stay angry, Jo stands firm. The following afternoon, Jo and Laurie go ice skating. Amy tries to follow them, but the ice is thin. Laurie alerts Jo about the unsafe ice, but she doesn't tell Amy. Consequently, Amy falls through. Jo is initially too scared to help, but Laurie rescues Amy. Later, Jo admits to Marmee her struggles with her anger. Jo is surprised when Marmee confesses she also struggles to manage her temper, as Jo had always seen her as eternally calm. Jo and Amy eventually reconcile their differences.

chapter 9

Meg decides to visit her rich friend, Annie Moffat. Despite packing her best outfits, she finds herself wishing for more expensive clothes, as the Moffats are quite stylish. During her visit, they socialize, watch plays, and organize parties. Meg attends the first party in her simple dress, overhearing gossip that her mother plans to marry her off to Laurie for his wealth. At the subsequent party, the Moffat sisters convince Meg to wear an extravagant borrowed dress. Although initially embarrassed, Meg finds pleasure in pretending to be high society. Laurie, also present, chides Meg for her extravagant behavior, causing her to regret her decision to play dress up. Upon her return home, Meg shares her experiences, including the rumors and her experiment with high fashion, with her mother and sister Jo. Marmee reassures them that she harbors no such intentions for Meg's marriage. Her only desire is for her daughters' happiness in youth and in marriage, and for them to be good individuals. She emphasizes that superficial appearances are not the basis of true love, but rather, it is founded on something more profound than wealth.

chapter 10

Come spring, the sisters engage in gardening and partake in their own version of the Pickwick Club, an artistic and literary society inspired by a male-only group in Charles Dickens's 'The Pickwick Papers.' They create a weekly newspaper filled with ads, verses, and tales. During a meeting, Jo suggests inviting Laurie. Initially, Amy and Meg are opposed, fearing his mockery. But when they relent, Laurie, who had been concealed in a closet, emerges. He gifts the club a mail box to be placed between their homes for an easy exchange of items.

chapter 11

Over the summer, the Kings, who Meg works for, and Aunt March head out for a vacation. This leaves Meg and Jo without their usual responsibilities. They, along with Amy and Beth, decide to enjoy a relaxed period devoid of any work. Having disregarded their regular tasks for nearly a week, Marmee and Hannah also decide to take a day off. The girls attempt to manage the house in their absence but fail spectacularly. This experience teaches them a lesson imparted by Marmee about the necessity of everyone chipping in with a bit of work.

chapter 12

In July, Meg finds a single glove and a German song translated by Laurie's tutor, Mr. Brooke, in her mail. Accompanying these is an invite to a picnic. The next day, the March sisters, along with guests like Sallie Gardiner, Ned Moffat, Mr. Brooke, Laurie's friends Fred and Kate Vaughn, and their siblings, attend the picnic. Fred is deceitful during a croquet game, which irritates Jo, but she restrains her anger. When Kate learns about Meg's job as a governess, she initially behaves rudely and then condescendingly. Mr. Brooke leaps to Meg's defense, leading to an extended chat between the two. In the meantime, Grace and Amy engage in a conversation about ponies and Europe, while Beth talks with Frank, who is nursing a wounded leg. As the event concludes, even the snobbish Kate compliments American girls.

chapter 13

Dreaming of fame and wealth as an author, Jo shares her thoughts. In the meantime, Laurie observes the March sisters trekking to a hill. Amidst their tasks of knitting, sewing, sketching, and reading, he requests to join them. They agree, provided he contributes in a useful way, aligning with their Busy Bee Society's work principles. Laurie reads a book out loud to the sisters as his contribution. As they labor, they all share their ambitions. Laurie aspires to be a renowned musician, Jo an acclaimed writer, and Amy a celebrated artist. Meg hopes for riches to avoid labor, while Beth simply wishes for everyone's happiness and unity. Jo, distressed that Laurie's dream is hindered by his grandfather's disapproval, advises him to rebel. However, Meg, being more pragmatic, advises Laurie to disregard Jo's counsel and maintain good relations with both his grandfather and Mr. Brooke. Laurie opts to heed Meg's advice.

chapter 14

Jo completes drafts for a couple of tales and secretly submits them to a local journalist. She is overwhelmed with nervousness. On her way out, she runs into Laurie. After persistent inquiries from Laurie, Jo discloses her secret. In exchange, Laurie reveals to Jo that Mr. Brooke is in possession of Meg’s glove and carries it around with him constantly. Jo is repelled by this secret, as it signifies someone potentially taking Meg away. To lighten the mood, Laurie challenges Jo to a downhill sprint. Sweaty and disheveled, they bump into Meg who had been visiting the Gardiners. Meg scolds Jo but is secretly enticed to participate in their fun. Jo's behavior becomes odd for the following week. One day, she reads a tale to others and surprises them by disclosing that she is the author. Although she has yet to receive payment, she assures that future works will earn her money. Jo is filled with a sense of self-sufficiency.

chapter 15

As November comes, a gloomy atmosphere prevails. Marmee is called to Washington, D.C. due to Mr. March's illness. She arranges for financial help from Aunt March through Laurie and seeks wine from Mr. Laurence via Beth. In her enthusiasm, Jo leaves to find a way to assist. Eventually, Mr. Laurence suggests that Mr. Brooke should accompany Marmee, an idea she happily agrees to. Jo comes back home after earning twenty-five dollars by selling her hair, leaving Amy, who thought of her hair as her "one beauty," in shock. Though initially unaffected, Jo mourns her lost hair late into the night.

chapter 16

Marmee leaves and maintains contact with her daughters through written correspondence. Each girl adopts her own unique style in her letters: Meg pens elegant accounts of daily happenings, while Jo's are filled with emotion, colloquialisms and playful rhyme. Beth conveys her affection in simple, loving messages, whereas Amy, in her quest for refinement, ends up focusing on mundane topics. The housekeeper, Hannah, sends letters filled with phonetic spelling errors about their household affairs. Laurie's contributions are brief, witty pieces, and Mr. Laurence communicates in notes filled with useful information and genuine emotion.

chapter 17

The girls initially keep themselves busy, but soon revert to idleness. Despite Marmee's request for her daughters to daily visit the Hummels, only Beth has been consistent. One day, she requests her sisters to take turns visiting the family, but they are too engrossed in their individual activities to listen. Eventually, Beth goes alone again. Upon her return, she informs Jo that the Hummel baby died from scarlet fever and she fears she might be infected. Fortunately, Jo and Meg have already contracted and survived the illness, so they're safe. The family calls for Dr. Bangs to examine Beth, who confirms her symptoms are consistent with scarlet fever. The family arranges for Amy to stay with Aunt March, as she hasn't had the illness yet. She agrees to move only after Laurie's promise to visit her daily. At Aunt March's, Amy is tormented by a talkative parrot, making her stay unpleasant.

chapter 18

Beth's condition deteriorates beyond everyone's expectations, leading the family to conclude that their mother, Marmee, must be summoned. Jo, overwhelmed with fear and grief, confides in Laurie that she can't bear to lose Beth. Laurie reveals that he had already sent for Marmee the previous day, and she will be joining them shortly. In the early hours, Jo and Meg notice a shift in Beth's condition; her fever and pain have vanished. As Jo quietly bids her sister farewell, Hannah interrupts with the news that the fever has broken. Beth isn't dying, she's on the mend. The doctor attests to this positive turn, and Marmee arrives just in time to join in the relief.

chapter 19

While Beth is sick, Amy finds it tough staying with Aunt March, who, despite her affection for Amy, keeps her busy with demanding chores. Amy finds comfort in the company of Aunt March's servant, Esther. Esther shares stories with Amy, lets her play with Aunt March's aged attire and jewels, and introduces her to the peace of prayer. On learning that she is in line to inherit Aunt March's turquoise ring, Amy becomes an exemplar of good behavior to ensure she gets the ring. Together, she and Esther create a small place of worship in a wardrobe, where Amy finds solace in prayer. Fearing illness and death, Amy even drafts a will, with Esther and Laurie as witnesses.

chapter 20

Marmee keeps a close watch on Beth, as Laurie informs Amy about Beth's improved health at Aunt March's place. Marmee also goes to see Amy, who shows her the chapel, a place Marmee finds suitable for peaceful introspection. Amy seeks permission to wear Aunt March's turquoise ring as a reminder against selfishness, which Marmee gives. Upon Marmee's return, Jo reveals to her that Mr. Brooke possesses Meg's glove. Marmee probes Jo's thoughts on Meg's feelings for Mr. Brooke, then confides that Mr. Brooke has expressed affection for Meg. This news disheartens Jo, who wishes to keep Meg with her. Marmee shares this sentiment, hoping Meg stays with them until she turns twenty. Jo had hoped for Meg to wed Laurie and live lavishly. Upon Meg's arrival, Marmee gauges her reaction to the mention of Mr. Brooke, concluding that while Meg does not currently love him, she will soon grow to.

chapter 21

Jo struggles to keep Meg's potential romance with Mr. Brooke a secret. Laurie, becoming frustrated, attempts to pry the secret from Jo but to no avail. Amidst this, Meg gets a supposed love letter from Mr. Brooke. She responds before Jo can tell her that Laurie may have penned it. Mr. Brooke's response reveals he didn't write any love letter. Jo speculates that both this letter and a previous one were Laurie's work. Her suspicions are confirmed when Laurie visits, admits his mischief, and apologizes. Jo and Meg instruct him to keep this incident a secret. After Laurie departs, Jo decides to assure him she harbors no resentment. She visits the Laurence household, finding Laurie in a foul mood. A disagreement with his grandfather, who demanded answers about his troubled state, has upset Laurie. He confides in Jo his desire to escape. Jo, wanting to alleviate the situation, explains Laurie's predicament to his grandfather, leading him to pen an apology to Laurie.

chapter 22

The festive season of Christmas brings cheer and happiness. Laurie and Jo take time to construct a snowwoman, a delightful surprise for Beth, while everyone else receives wonderful gifts. The Laurences, in collaboration with Mr. Brooke, astonish the family by facilitating the unexpected return of Mr. March on Christmas. His arrival brings immense joy, as Mr. March compliments his girls on their maturity. However, Jo is perturbed as she senses Meg's increasing detachment from family matters due to her growing inclination towards Mr. Brooke.

chapter 23

Meg's cheeks turn red at Mr. Brooke's name, indicating her feelings for him. However, her parents believe she's too young for marriage, resulting in her rehearsing a rejection speech for him. When he visits, she's softer towards him but still rejects his declaration of love on account of her youth. Their exchange is disrupted by Aunt March's arrival. With Mr. Brooke out of the room, Aunt March berates Meg, advocating for a rich suitor. This prompts Meg to stand up for her affection for Mr. Brooke. Once Aunt March departs, Mr. Brooke returns, admitting to overhearing Meg's defense. This revelation causes Meg to recognize her deeper feelings for him. Upon this discovery, he proposes a future engagement, to which she agrees. Her parents give their blessings, while Jo bemoans the impending loss of her sister. When Laurie and Mr. Laurence arrive, they express their excitement for the engaged pair. The book's first section concludes with the family reunion in the living room.

chapter 24

Three years later, as Part Two commences, Meg is preparing for her wedding. Mr. March and Mr. Brooke have returned from the war, the latter suffering a minor injury. During this period, Meg has honed her housekeeping skills and Amy has assumed Jo’s caretaking role for Aunt March. Jo's writing for the newspaper continues, earning her a dollar per column, while Laurie completes his college education. Amy, blossoming into a beautiful young woman, has attracted many of Laurie’s college friends. Sallie Gardiner has become Mrs. Ned Moffat. As Meg’s wedding approaches, the March women busy themselves with preparing Meg’s new home. Laurie returns with presents for Meg, leading to Jo chiding him for his extravagance. Laurie, to Jo’s chagrin, predicts that she will be the next to wed.

chapter 25

Meg's nuptials are simple and intimate. Dressed in summer attire, the March sisters radiate a unique beauty different from what they had three years prior: Jo has mellowed slightly, Amy is stunning, while Beth, though pale and delicate, exhibits a positive demeanor. The wedding proceeds without a hitch. Inquiring about the lack of the costly wine his grandfather had gifted, Laurie is informed by Meg that they've reserved a small portion for medicinal purposes and donated the remainder. She also asks Laurie to commit to a life of sobriety, to which he consents. Following the festivities, Meg departs, imploring her loved ones to remember her fondly.

chapter 26

Amy devotes a lot of her time to her artwork, displaying a deep passion for it despite not being naturally gifted. After an art lesson, she requests Marmee's permission to host a lunch party for her friends, followed by a sketching session. Her plans for the event are grand, and she insists on bearing the expenses herself. Marmee agrees, although she aims to teach Amy a lesson about authenticity. However, Amy's party costs more than she anticipated, forcing her to postpone the picnic due to bad weather and reorganize everything the next day. On her shopping spree for lobster, she bumps into Laurie's friend and is mortified because lobster was deemed a low-class dish during that era. Nevertheless, she regains composure and charms him. The party ensues, but only one guest arrives. Amy maintains a cheerful demeanor throughout the event, but is inwardly despondent about the outcome. Fortunately, her family responds with much grace and tact.

chapter 27

Jo persists with her writing endeavors. During a talk on pyramids, she is presented with a newspaper displaying a dramatic tale and a contest rewarding $100 for the most thrilling story. Inspired, Jo crafts an entry, submits it, and emerges victorious. She utilizes the prize money to facilitate Marmee and Beth's health retreat by the seaside. Jo continues to pen stories, earning her more money and supporting her family. She finally ventures to complete her romantic novel, agreeing to trim it down to meet the publisher's request after much deliberation. Upon publication, the novel garners $300 and a mixed response from the literary critics.

chapter 28

Meg learns to manage domestic tasks and become a diligent spouse due to their financial constraints. One day, her attempt at making jelly ends disastrously. That evening, John unexpectedly invites guests home, which irritates Meg despite her earlier assurance that he could do so. They experience their first disagreement but reconcile soon after. Another challenge arises when Meg indulges in an extravagant shopping spree with Sallie Gardiner and spends excessively on expensive fabric. This prevents John from buying a new coat. Meg resolves the issue by selling the fabric to Sallie, and uses the money to buy John a coat. Lastly, Meg becomes a mother to twins, named John Laurence and Margaret, fondly referred to as Demi and Daisy.

chapter 29

Amy encourages Jo to dress elegantly and behave well as they embark on their social visits. Amy chides Jo for her introverted demeanor during their first visit. In response, Jo humorously mimics May Chester, a known socialite, at their next stop, which embarrasses Amy, especially when Jo discloses aspects of their financial struggles. At the third visit, Jo, despite Amy's pleas, engages with a bunch of young boys, narrating stories to them. As they head to Aunt March’s home, Amy insists that women of modest means should be pleasant as that's all they can offer. Jo disagrees, predicting she'll remain gruff throughout her life. Upon reaching, they find Aunt Carrol also visiting Aunt March. Amy's charm impresses everyone while Jo remains unamiable. Alcott hints at a positive outcome awaiting Amy, acknowledging her pleasing demeanor that day.

chapter 30

Amy is tasked with managing the art table at the forthcoming Chesters' fair. She painstakingly arranges the showcase. However, on the eve of the event, Mrs. Chester is informed about the March sisters' previous insult hurled at her daughter, May. In response, she reassigns Amy to the flower table, while May takes over the art table. Despite feeling slighted, Amy remains calm and relocates her artwork to her new station. On the day of the fair, Amy tries to mend fences by offering her artwork back to May. Nonetheless, her flower table attracts minimal attention throughout the day. In the evening, the March family arranges for a group of young men, led by Laurie, to patronize Amy's table, buying all her flowers. Subsequently, Amy directs the boys to May's table to purchase her handmade vases, thus subtly retaliating. When Amy gets home, she discovers the vases adorning flowers meant for her. Furthermore, she gets a message from Aunt Carrol stating she's traveling to Europe and invites Amy to join her. Amy is ecstatic, contrasting Jo's disappointment as she had hoped to embark on the journey. Prior to departing for Europe, Amy entrusts the care of her family to Laurie. He assures her of his support in case of any eventuality.

chapter 31

Amy shares her European adventures in numerous letters, touring England, France, Germany, and Switzerland, and taking in all the beautiful sights. During her travels, she encounters Fred and Frank Vaughn, Laurie's English pals. Amy and Aunt Carrol's daughter, Florence, spend a good deal of time with them. It becomes evident that Fred has romantic intentions toward Amy, which she is open to reciprocating, not out of great passion, but due to her fondness for him and the potential benefit his wealth could bring her family. However, Fred must abruptly leave when he learns that Frank has fallen seriously ill. He implores Amy to keep him in her thoughts, assuring her with significance that he will return to her swiftly.

chapter 32

Marmee requests Jo to investigate Beth's low spirits. Jo, deep in thought, wonders if Beth has feelings for Laurie. However, she worries that Laurie might be infatuated with her instead. Jo suggests to Marmee that she should take a trip to broaden her view of the world and avoid Laurie's possible affection. She also hopes that Laurie will turn his affection towards Beth in her absence. Marmee acknowledges Jo and Laurie's incompatibility due to their matching stubbornness and propensity to argue. Jo opts to move to New York and stay with a lady called Mrs. Kirke, offering to tutor her children. When Jo announces her departure plan to Laurie, he replies, jokingly yet earnestly, that she can't slip away from him that easily.

chapter 33

In her letters from New York, Jo updates on the children's well-being and shares her delight in her cozy room in the large boarding house. She introduces a co-boarder, a German professor, Frederick Bhaer, who despite his poor circumstances, earns a living by tutoring kids. Despite his unattractive appearance and being middle-aged, Jo is touched by his benevolence and the good he does for others. A bond of friendship forms between them when Jo repairs some of his clothes. In time, he starts teaching her German. On Christmas, he presents her a cherished Shakespeare book, hoping she'll gain from it. In exchange, Jo showers him with several small gifts. At the New Year’s Eve masquerade held at the boarding house, Jo impersonates Mrs. Malaprop from Richard Sheridan's Restoration comedy, The Rivals, while Bhaer takes on the role of Nick Bottom from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Jo finds immense joy in the event.

chapter 34

Jo embarks on a journey of writing dramatic stories for a newspaper titled the "Weekly Volcano" in New York. Despite earning well, she isn't proud of her work due to its lack of moral depth. Her admiration for Mr. Bhaer grows when she observes him advocating for religion during a debate. The realization that he disapproves of her sensationalist writing leads to her abandonment of this genre. As June arrives, Jo must head back home. She informs Bhaer about her plans to attend Laurie's graduation, causing a hint of jealousy in him. Bhaer convinces himself that he can't aspire to be with Jo. Despite feeling like a failure in her writing career, Jo is content to have found a valuable friendship in Bhaer.

chapter 35

The March family, except Amy, attend Laurie's college graduation. Laurie's efforts in his final year are seen as an attempt to impress Jo. Upon returning home, he discloses his romantic feelings for Jo. Despite her attempts to hush him, he adamantly proclaims his affection. Jo, however, declines his marriage proposal and confesses she does not reciprocate his romantic feelings, thus shattering his heart. Laurie suspects Jo's affections are for Professor Bhaer and ungraciously critiques the professor's advanced age. Jo defends Bhaer vehemently, but denies any romantic feelings for him. Post rejection, Laurie sinks into a period of gloom. It is only after Mr. Laurence, who is aware of Jo's refusal, proposes a trip to Europe that Laurie reluctantly agrees and leaves with a heavy heart.

chapter 36

Returning from New York, Jo is shocked by how much sicker Beth looks. She offers to take Beth to the mountains using her earnings, but Beth requests a seaside trip instead. On their vacation, Beth admits she knows her time is limited. Despite Jo's denial, Beth strongly believes her end is near. She explains this realization caused her sadness last fall and asks Jo to break the news to their parents. However, once they're back home, their parents immediately notice Beth's deteriorating condition.

chapter 37

On Christmas, Laurie and Amy reunite in Nice, France, both noticing the other has transformed considerably. Laurie sees Amy's evolution into a graceful and beautiful lady, whereas Amy recognizes Laurie's newfound seriousness and attractive charm, no longer viewing him just as a friend from childhood. That night, Laurie accompanies her to a hotel dance, where she makes a conscious effort to appear remarkably attractive for him. Initially, he doesn't show her the amount of attention she craves. Yet, by the end of the evening, when she playfully reveals the little tactics she uses to enhance her beauty despite her limited means, he becomes moved. As a result, he fills up her dance card with his own name.

chapter 38

Meg has been engrossed in her duty as a mother, neglecting her husband, Mr. Brooke. As a result, he starts visiting his friends at night, reducing his time with their kids, which leaves Meg disheartened. Marmee spots the issue and advises Meg to take more interest in her husband's activities, and to be more affectionate and presentable. She emphasizes that Meg should balance the bond with her husband and children. Taking her mother's advice to heart, Meg decides to change her approach. She tucks the children in bed early, prepares a delightful dinner, and dresses up, which delights John when he returns home. However, their son Demi refuses to sleep. John steps up, disciplines his son, and ensures that he obeys his mother. This incident triggers a change in their household dynamics, with Meg and John now sharing the parenting duties, leading to them spending more quality time together.

chapter 39

Laurie had planned a week-long stay in Nice but extends it to a month to relish in Amy's company. While with Amy, Laurie's indolence and ill-temper begin to bother her. During a trip to a picturesque villa for Amy to sketch, she chides Laurie about neglecting his grandfather and idling away his time. She soon realizes that Jo has rejected Laurie's proposal, which earns him some sympathy from her. Nevertheless, she encourages him to stop brooding and utilize his abilities. The next day, she receives a message from Laurie, informing her about his departure to visit his grandfather. While she will miss his presence, she feels content that he considered her advice.

chapter 40

Responding to Beth's deteriorating health, her family arranges a pleasant room for her, accentuating it with her piano, Amy's art, and other appealing items. Meg often brings her children to cheer up Beth. With each passing day, Beth's strength diminishes, however, she harbors no fear for death. Jo composes a touching poem reflecting on Beth's importance in her life, which provides comfort to Beth, who fears her existence might have been insignificant. Before her peaceful departure, Beth requests Jo to look after their parents.

chapter 41

Upon his return to Switzerland, Laurie is invigorated and spends time in Austria composing a requiem and an opera. Initially, he tries to cast Jo in his works, but she doesn't suit the role of his artistic muse. Instead, he begins envisioning a blonde maiden, though he doesn't identify her. In the meantime, Laurie's correspondence with Amy becomes more frequent. When Fred Vaughn proposes, Amy declines his offer, unwilling to wed for wealth. Learning about Beth’s demise almost simultaneously, Laurie rushes to console Amy. They start spending a significant amount of time together and eventually fall in love. During a boating excursion, Amy notices Laurie's fatigue and offers to help him row. Their coordination is seamless, leading Laurie to ask Amy if she is willing to share the metaphorical boat of life with him - in essence, proposing marriage. Amy affirms she will.

chapter 42

While Jo, left alone, attempts to ease the lives of Marmee, Mr. March, and Hannah, she confesses to her father the depth of her longing for Beth. The news of Amy and Laurie's betrothal lands, sparking Marmee's concern for Jo's reaction. However, Jo is composed and happy for the couple's love. She does harbor a desire for a love of her own, but she doesn't resent Amy for capturing Laurie's heart. Jo's focus turns to writing, where she develops a distinctive style, more genuine than her prior dramatic writing, leading to numerous published stories. She starts entertaining romantic thoughts about Professor Bhaer and wishes for his arrival.

chapter 43

Laurie suddenly appears, astonishing Jo. He reveals that he and Amy are now husband and wife, letting them travel home unaccompanied. He admits to Jo that she wasn't the right match for him and expresses his joy in having Amy as his partner and Jo as family. With the return of Amy, Laurie, and Mr. Laurence, the entire household indulges in festive merriment all day and night. Mr. Laurence, mourning Beth's loss, requests Jo to fill the place of his “girl”. Amidst the ongoing celebration, Mr. Bhaer shows up unanticipated, stating he's visiting the city for some business. Jo welcomes him warmly and everybody takes a liking to him. Jo observes that he's elegantly dressed as though he's wooing someone. Following a long night, he inquires if he could return as he'll be in the city for a few more days. Jo happily gives him permission.

chapter 44

In a state of bliss, Amy and Laurie are continuously seen enjoying each other's presence. Their conversation revolves around Mr. Bhaer, who they believe is Jo's future husband. They express their desire to financially assist Bhaer who is currently in a state of poverty. Further discussing their philanthropic intentions, they agree upon aiding those who are aspiring yet lack the necessary funds. This discussion of their benevolent plans brings them even closer.

chapter 45

Despite being only three, Demi displays a fascination for mechanics and philosophy, which his grandfather dotes on. He shares a close bond with his sister Daisy, who willingly submits to his control. Daisy finds joy in assisting Hannah with cooking and domestic chores. Both siblings enjoy playing with their Aunt Dodo, known to others as Jo, but she has less time for them when Bhaer is present. Despite this, they harbor affection for him because of his habit of giving them chocolate drops. On a certain day, Demi shares with Jo and Bhaer that he's had his first kiss with a little girl. In his naivety, he inquires if older boys also like older girls. This leaves Bhaer somewhat taken aback, but he responds in the affirmative, much to Jo's pleasure.

chapter 46

In a period of considerable socializing, Bhaer is absent for a few days. On a day filled with tasks, Jo hopes to cross paths with him. As the rain starts to pour, she encounters him, and they proceed to shop together under his umbrella for cover. He confides that his business in the city is done and reveals he has secured a teaching position out West to earn money. Saddened by the thought of his departure, Jo can't hold back her tears. Witnessing her affection for him, Bhaer is encouraged to confess his love for her. She reciprocates his feelings and they agree to tie the knot.

chapter 47

Jo and Bhaer endure a year of separation with longing. Upon the unforeseen passing of Aunt March, Jo inherits Plumfield, her house. With a vision to transform it into a school that welcomes both wealthy and disadvantaged boys, Jo receives unanimous approval from her family. After several years, the school successfully operates with Mr. Laurence's financial assistance for the needy students. In October, an apple-picking festival brings together the Marches, Brookes, Laurences, and Bhaers. They also commemorate Marmee’s sixtieth birthday with joy. The sisters take a moment to appreciate their good fortune and laud Marmee for her accomplished life. Jo voices her aspiration to author another novel but confesses her contentment. Amy, despite her worry over her sick daughter Beth, chooses to cherish her presence while she can. The entire group expresses their collective gratitude for the beautiful life they lead.

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