I have to be honest. While I love the March sisters and the story of Little Women, I am glad to be moving on. It was a nice visit, and I loved being with them, but you can only handle everything working out for so long.
(Besides the death of the beloved, which I won't talk about).
I mean, sugary books like this are meant to be treasured. Their problems seem small because they do end up resolving themselves in a pleasing way. Jo does find love in an unlikely place. Meg finds happiness when she didn't think she would. Beth eventually gets over her fear of Mr. Lawrence and enjoys free rein of his piano. Amy becomes the polished young lady she always aspired to be. Their problems get resolved and while they struggle so that the reader sympathizes, it all ends out okay, as it should.
I think that had Alcott changed it so that things didn't end up so perfectly, Little Women would not be Little Women. It is meant to be the kind of book that girls read so they would learn; "If you do these good things and remain loving and loyal, everything you could need will eventually come your way. But only if you are a graceful little woman and stay true to your heart and home."
And there is nothing really wrong with that message. I look at girls I had in my classes last year-with their tiny little skirts and their chests hanging out. I would wonder at how they threw themselves at boys and how they wondered why boys only wanted one thing from them. A little more propriety wouldn't hurt anyone, and neither would respect for oneself. I think of the things these kids do-both boys and girls-and wonder how my great-grandparents would react. The shame of it!
So no, I don't think there is anything wrong with hoping for good moral sense and the need for an individual to try to be selfless as the March girls try to be. It is a grand thing, and some thing I hope to teach my own girls one day (a long time down the road).
I also love how this novel explores social standards and the differences between men and women. One of my favorite scenes in the book and the movie is when Jo is talking to Laurie about him leaving for college. She distinctly says, "I wish I could go." For that statement alone, I am glad that women get to go now and learn as much, if not more, than boys. Women getting into college was certainly a HUGE step forward and I love that Jo expresses that desire. I think back then people really appreciated their education as something grand and wonderful, where many kids today take it for granted. Personally, I LOVED college and taking classes I was interested in. While my brothers think my degrees (English and History) are a joke, I know I earned them.
And it was always nice to be one of the few girls in my history classes.
Anyway, I suppose what I am trying to say about this novel is that I still loved it. When I was younger, I never really saw any of that hidden depth, or questioned why Jo couldn't go to college but Laurie could, but I did believe that if I was good and did as I should, I would eventually get what I needed. And I can be honest and say that has come true. I have a husband who loves me, books to read, and kittens to love. Those things make me entirely happy and confirm that I, too have become a proud "little woman."