Right-o. Holidays are awesome! 2008's holiday season was pretty fantabulous :) There was the family time and presents and all that, but mainly, there was all sorts of relaxing. Awesome.
Back to business though :)
Ok, so Chapters 7 through 9.
I feel like, as we've continued on through this book, Louisa May Alcott is passing the expressing of opinions more fully to the characters. As readers, I think, we take our cues for how to react to certain situations from the tone of the writing. Whether it be from the characters reactions or the word choice of the author in describing things. I feel like, early on in the book, the author's voice was very "audible"; that through her descriptions it was always very clear what her opinions were on each situation. However, as the characters have continued to develop, I feel that their voices (Marmee especially) have become stronger than the author's. (which i think is a good thing).
It was in Chapter 7, when Amy gets disciplined at school, that I felt like this switch was noticeably complete. In the description of Mr. Davis, I almost feel like the author is sympathizing with his plight. When we meet him (pg. 69) he's described as a "much-enduring man", successful in banning all sorts of things that would aggravate any human teacher: chewing-gum, newspapers, note passing, nicknames, caricatures and had "done all that one man could do to keep half a hundred rebellious girls in order." And while admitting he was a nervous man with a tyrannical temper, the author does note that in this instance that caused Amy such humiliation, he also was clearly being manipulated by the little girls he was teaching. Plus he didn't joy in serving out the punishment, rather it was part of what was necessary to maintain his rules. So, it was about that point that I felt like the author was allowing us (the readers) to come to our own conclusion on the nature of this teacher. But then, just a couple paragraphs later, Marmee's opinion was made known.
In this week's reading, I found myself repeatedly enthralled by Marmee's reactions to things. While she may not be perfect, she is quite saintly indeed. Clearly she is not a fan of corporal punishment, they do not use physical discipline in their home and she does pull Amy out of school, but she doesn't let the use of it blind her to the lesson and intent behind Mr. Davis' actions. She says to Amy "I should not have chosen that way of mending a fault..." but about the whole situation and the limes Marmee says "I am not sorry that you lost them, for you broke the rules, and deserved some punishment for disobedience..." and then goes on to endorse the cultivation of humility.
I feel like in each of these three chapters, there was a very clear lesson on different virtues. The situations that lead to the lessons are quite intense, but the lessons that Marmee extracts from each of the situations are pretty impressive. Amy learns about humility. In Chapter 8, Jo learns a harsh lesson on anger and forgiveness. Then in Chapter 9, Meg learns about dangers of peer pressure and following group mentality. Also, Meg grows up (looses some of her childhood innocence) when overhearing gossip, but she also learns that "splendid" isn't necessarily better than cozy. Through these lessons, and all the chapters so far, I feel like the main theme of Little Women could be that 'every cloud has a silver lining' or maybe even 'horrible things can bring about goodness'. All that with a strong undercurrent of the importance of drawing close to our Heavenly Father. I feel like Jo's experience (pg. 85) sums it up nicely. "...In that sad, yet happy hour, she had learned not only the bitterness of remorse and despair, but the sweetness of self-denial and self-control; and, led by her mother's hand, she had drawn nearer to that Friend who welcomes every child with a love stronger than that of any father, tenderer than that of any mother."