1.) 1a.) Definitions of terms and concepts: Carnelian : a semi precious stone consisting of a orange colour. Tuneful: Having a pleasing tune;melodious Cockles: A small shallow boat Piteous: Deserving pity Penitent: Showing sorrow or repentance for doing something wrong Sentiel: A soldier who is meant to stand and keep watch Dandified: Showing excessive concern about clothes or appearance Droll: Curious or unusual in a way that provokes dry amusement Bespattered: Splattered with liquid Omnibus: comprising several items 1b.
) Central meaning I feel like umbrellas have a special meaning in the book. They seem to have a feeling of protection. It makes sense, as umbrellas protect us from the rain.
An example would be at the end of the novel, Professor Bhaer puts his umbrella over Jo, and she accepts it. I believe this shows that he is protecting her and she is ready to accept protection from a man. It also is protection emotionally, like a safe space. She is finally ready to love, and so she accepts the umbrella. Another symbolic word in this novel is things relating to fire. Amy burns Jo’s manuscript.
Jo wears a burned dress to a party. Jo burns her stories after Professor Bhaer speaks lowly of the sensationalist style of writing. Jo’s writing is described by her family as “Genius burning”.
2.) Setting 2a.) The sisters will all go their own way at times. Jo goes to New York, while her sister Amy goes to Europe. However, they come back to the family home which is somewhere in the United States. We know this because Laurie hosts a picnic for some British friends who are visiting and during the picnic the family shows pride in the democratic ideals of independence. Some believe that the story takes place in Concord, Massachusetts.
This is because the author Louisa May Alcott is from an area near there. It’s also unclear what year the book takes place. The first part of the book is the span of about one year, as it goes from Christmas to Christmas. We can assume the novel is set sometime during the early 1860s because the father isn’t home and is serving in the Civil War. When the book opens, it is probably early in the 1860’s because it doesn’t seem like the war has been going on for a long time I believe it is very important to understand the place and time of this book. The central ideas relating to femininity, Christianity, and family may not apply if you were to look at it in modern day perspective.
Along with the theme of nationalism if you were to move it to a different country. Socially this book must be in this time period and place to make sense to the audience. While you may be proud of your country regardless of if you live in the US or not, American nationalism is different and may not line up in other countries. 3.) Plot and structure The first event is on Pg. 18 when the March family decides to make the holiday different by giving their Christmas feast to a family down the street who is poor and less fortunate than them. Each of the girls agree to this plan, and bring the family their favorite part of the meal. The second event is on page 89 when Amy follows Jo and Laurie down to the ice pond.
However, the ice was starting to thin by this time of year Laurie informed both of the girls of the thin ice, but only jo heard. Jo was well aware of the fact that she did not hear, but didn’t tell her because she was still angry at her for burning her manuscript. She turns around to see Amy fall through the ice, and is too scared to go help her.
Laurie goes to help and eventually Jo unfreezes and makes up with Amy. This strengthens their family bonds. The fourth event is on page 162 when they receive a telegram saying that their father is sick and injured from the war. their mom is stressed about this because she finds that she has no money to pay for the train ticket to get to the hospital. Jo takes it upon herself to get the money. She gets money by selling all her hair.
She is very proud of herself until night comes and she is crying over her hair. The fifth event is on page 178 After acting strange for a week, Jo finally tells her family her secret of her writing being published in the paper. She submitted two articles a week before telling her mother and sisters, the only person she had told was Laurie. Her family shows love and pride towards her work. The sixth event in the book is on page 208 when Beth comes home one day to tell her sisters that the Hummel’s baby has died from scarlet fever. In the next week its suspected that Beth may also have the fever. Amy is sent away from the house, because she is still able to catch the fever. Beth is diagnosed with having the fever.
Page 306 when Jo enters a writing contest for a one hundred-dollar prize. She ends up writing a fantastic article, and wins the prize money. With that money, she sends her mother and Beth to a beach in order to help Beth recover from her fever. Jo also finishes the novel that she was writing, and ends up making about three hundred dollars for it. The eighth event is on page 362 When Jo returns from a long trip, she goes to Laurie’s graduation with her sisters. Afterwards, Laurie tells Jo he loves her and proposes. Jo is shocked and tells him that she does not feel the same way. This breaks Laurie’s heart, and he decides to travel to Europe.
The ninth event is on page 404 When Beth quietly passes away from her fever. The tenth event is on page 472 Mrs. March celebrates her sixtieth birthday with the family. All of these events are linked together with the theme of family. The main conflict in the book I would say is man vs. Nature.
As all the characters seem to struggle with time and accepting time and growing up. However, on a character by character basis, it seems to be a man vs. Internal struggle. For example, you could say that Jo’s struggle with her inner femininity is a huge conflict. This becomes apparent when she turns down Laurie’s proposal and asserts herself as an independent woman.
Also, towards the beginning, while at the party she is wearing a dress with a burn mark in the back, which symbolizes her feeling towards traditionally girly things. But as she grows up she finds that she can learn to be comfortable in her own skin, accepting Mr. Bhaers umbrella and upon telling her that he is moving for work, she breaks down and tells him that she loves him. He confesses his own love, and they arrange to get married.
This shows her accepting being what she never felt she would be. I feel the resolution is as stated in the latter. Most conflicts seem to be ironed out by the time the book ends.
I wish they had resolved the fathers story line more, but I understand that during the book he isn’t exactly a star. But everyone else seems to stay in the central theme of loving their family and themselves whole heartedly. 4.
) Characters 4a.) Josephine March: Quick witted tomboy, is our protagonist. She wants to be a writer when she grows up. She rejects the traditional female roles that are expected of her at this time. We know this because she directly rejects it. Ex.
“I’ll try and be what he loves to call me, ‘a little woman,’ and not be rough and wild, but do my duty here instead of wanting to be somewhere else,”. Our second character is Meg March: who is very kind and motherly. Our third character is Beth March: quiet and reserved. Becomes ill in the story. The fourth Character is Amy March: Artistic and kind. Likes pretty objects. Our fifth character is Laurie Laurence: Charming and clever next-door neighbor to the March’s.
Finally: our sixth character is Marmee March. She is the mother of the sisters and is a kind of moral compass. Jo sort of pacifies as time goes on. In the beginning she is very hardheaded and outspoken. She does not conform to social expectations and after declining Laurie’s hand in marriage is assumed to never get married. At least I assumed she would reject marriage all together.
However, she does end up giving up on her passion of writing and marrying Prof. Bhaer. Meg also progresses in the sense that she gives up her materialistic or shallow personality to marry a poor man she loves. I find familiarity in Jo’s stubbornness for sure. I myself do not like traditional female roles, which is maybe why I found myself hoping she would never get married, but instead follow her passions. I found it strange how the females of this time period acted because I can never do what they did.
I actively fight against gender roles, and thus against the idea that I have to act any particular way. I can absolutely accept the fact that this was the way of life back in the civil war era, and acknowledge that this was all normal. However, being born in a time when women have the most rights they ever had, it’s hard to look back at the people who laid the foundation for me. It is an insightful look into how far we have come in that sense.
As I said when describing Marmee, I feel as if she represents a moral compass. She is barely a main character, but is the structure to the girl’s morals. She doesn’t encourage her daughters to look for rich men, even though their family is poor. She believes that the poorest family, the Hummels, are just as useful as any other member of society.
She makes sure that all her daughters are educated and can be free thinkers, instead of marrying them off to men who will make important decisions for them. She believes that hard work, core principles, and spirituality are the most important things in life. 5.) Point of View 5a.) The point of view is third person. I gives insight into the setting and time period of this piece, as one wouldn’t say “I am in the 1860s and I’m going into town.”.
This point of view remains consistent throughout the book. The point of view gives a clear look into the actions of all the characters and also insight on what they are thinking. If the story was written in first person, I believe we would feel more connected with the characters, because we would know them more personally. We would understand the inner workings of their minds, rather than the overall idea of all the characters. 6.
) Theme 6a.) The overarching theme would be to showcase ” The struggle of being a woman and achieving your dreams.”.
Louisa May Alcott seemed to want us to understand the struggle of being womanly in your own terms. I believe she was trying to prove the point that you can be a woman who is womanly and still be a writer. By showing Jo giving up on her dreams, I believe she wanted to break our hearts and want us to continue on our dreams regardless of what anyone wants us to do. I believe she wanted to incite our emotions to create a drive to fight “Against the man”, or rather against any notion of the “Proper” way to be a woman. This theme is balanced between coming naturally and being overdone.
There are a lot of instances where it’s obvious she’s trying to rebel against gender roles, but not bluntly saying so. She often lets the characters lead you to your own conclusions of what you can see is right and wrong. Even the title creates the ambiance of the story being about women. I believe the title is telling the reader that these women are not considered to be much, but through the story we find that each and every one of them is great in their own way, and very independent. 7.) Style and tone 7a.) The style of this book I can only describe as “Dreamy”.
Alcott sort of floats from sentence to sentence in a calm, neutral manner. Time passes quickly in the book, so it seems like we are getting cinematic snapshots of the characters daily life. She uses both short and long sentences, each giving a different feeling to what is being said. An example of this would be on page 93, “As meg went rustling after, her long skirts trailing, her earrings tinkling, her curls waving, and her heart beating, she felt as if her fun had really begun at last, for the mirror told her that she was a little beauty.”. This is one sentence that you feel is running with the character, you are almost reading at the pace she is running, and as it slows down to picture the mirror, your reading pace slows down with it. 7b.
) Alcott uses the symbol of fire to represent many things. It can represent the passion in ones hear, in the example of Jo’s writing being called “Burning”. While it can also be representative of destruction, like the burn mark on Jo’s dress when she went to the party. 7c.) I feel like the stories mood is mainly sentimental, where as you read it you feel like you were there in the past. It has a sort of homey, nostalgic feeling to reading it. 7d.
) “How dark the days did seem now, how sad and lonely the house, and how heavy were the hearts of the sisters as they worked and waited, while the shadow of death hovered over the once happy home! Then it was that Margaret, sitting alone with tears dropping often on her work, felt how rich she had been in things more precious than any luxury could buy—in love, protection, peace, and health, the real blessings in life.” (Alcott, 181). This passage goes on to talk about each of the sisters at this point in time, but it would fill half a page with a passage which meaning comes across in the first example of the sister. I love this passage because it details the grief in each of the sisters, making them willing to give up their flaws in this story to fix the problem. Margaret isn’t focusing on material things, but realizing the true value of love. I like the expressiveness in the quote as well. 8.
) HTRLLAP 8.a) my story uses quest in the goal of Jo. She wants to pursue writing and hopes to become a famous writer. We see her quest from when she first tells her family she is a writer, to the contest she won with her amazing writing, to Amy burning her manuscript etc. This quest keeps our interest and helps us invest ourselves in the story. 8b.
) 9.) Analysis 9a.) I enjoyed this book a lot.
I mentioned earlier that I Identify strongly with the main character, Jo. I liked the message early on of not accepting the marriage because she truly did not want to. She didn’t say yes because she felt bad or because her potential husband was rich, she wanted to do her own thing. I respect that. When she gave up her passion to form a boy’s school, I thought it was a nice sentiment but it sort of lost me. The other characters were entertaining and unique, and I would definitely recommend this book to others. This book isn’t terribly offensive, it has the occasional misogyny, but it was written in the nineteenth century, so you can’t really blame it.
The book is mild and pretty good for all audiences.