Saturday, July 11, 2015

Literature Spotlights: Little Women

I keep turning over new leaves, and spoiling them, as I used to spoil my copybooks; and I make so many beginnings there will never be an end.

Jo March was my literary idol growing up. I remember ordering my copy of Little Women in a Scholastic book order catalog during sixth grade. I was immediately enchanted by the story of the March sisters and of Jo in particular. Her aspirations to be a writer, her fearlessness, her quirky individualism, and her courage in the face of challenges were all things I wanted as I grew up. In many ways, I hope I embody many of those qualities today.

If you are a reader like me, I'm sure you had a favorite book growing up. Little Women is one that has been with me longer than The Great Gatsby to be sure (after all, I did not read Fitzgerald until I reached high school). Louisa May Alcott, the author of the novel, portrays four very different young women in this story. There's the eldest Meg, quiet and sensible. Jo, spontaneous and impulsive. Beth, shy and reserved. And Amy, pretty and bubbly. Ultimately, the novel is a story about youth and becoming an adult. Even the though time period is so much different than our own, the themes of the novel are ones worth exploring.

Alcott writes of social classes, individualism, gender stereotypes, and so much more. The March girls find themselves constantly tempted by the supposed joys of the upper classes. Indeed, Meg does not always know how to react when in the presence of women who are much wealthier than she. Amy and Beth struggle with both their individualism and their role in the world; a time period that was intended for women to be in the home. Jo, forever the adventurer, has difficulty accepting that writing was considered a man's profession and no place for a woman (her first printed article is published with a man's name instead of her own). I love how Alcott describes Jo's passion for writing:
Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and fall into a vortex, as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.
It reminds me so much of me. I work on my own novel with my full heart and soul as well, just as I put so much passion into my writing here at Certainly Candid and GenTwenty. I think it is clear why I love Little Women so much. I love reading about Jo, and her sisters, and Laurie, and their experiences as they navigate the very murky area of adulthood. I took strength from this novel during hard times. I hope it brings you strength as well. With that, I leave you with a final quotation. Goodnight, dear readers.
She began to see that character is a better possession than money, rank, intellect, or beauty, and to feel that if greatness is what a wise man has defined it to be, 'truth, reverence, and good will,' then her friend Friedrich Bhaer was not only good, but great.

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