25 January 2009


Chapter 13: The Busy Bee Society meets, doing a variety of useful things outdoor. You see a bit of Alcott in Jo: "I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle -- something heroic or wonderful that won't be forgotten after I'm dead. I don't know what, but I'm on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you some day." She also gently teaches about the value of work and the problems of idleness. Like Kate, I think this is a wonderful idea and I wish that my sisters were close enough to do this with! We'd have a great time!

Chapter 14: Jo publishes her first work, "Rival Painters," (which was also the title of Alcott's first published work). Laurie tells Jo that Mr. Brooke has Meg's glove, which upsets Jo terribly. She hates it that Meg is growing up and their lovely nest is going to be broken up by marriage.

Chapter 15: Father is ill and Marmee must go nurse him. Mr. Brooke is to accompany her (Meg is very pleased & grateful). Jo, knowing how Marmee feels about borrowing from Aunt March, and feeling much the same way, sells her hair.


These "little women" are ordinary girls, growing up into ordinary women; they are not depicted as being remarkable. Yet they are remarkable: they are remarkable in their goodness. Reading about them makes me want to be a better woman myself: I want a "Busy Bee Society." I want to have a theater group where we write and act our own works, the secret society complete with newsletter sounds like a blast! I love the way they readily took their own Christmas breakfast to a family that needed it. These girls are the kind of women that I want to be, and reading about them is inspiring. It pushes me toward greater goodness myself. It seems to me that this is just the sort of influence that good literature ought to have on the reader. It just remains to take the desire to be a better person that I feel when I'm reading & thinking and translate that into some sort of sustainable action.

I think that one of the reason that the March girls are able to be so good and get so much accomplished is that they are doing it as a group. Even though they are often doing very different things: the Busy Bee Society's requirement was that you be industrious, but there were no rules on how that industry had to be carried out. Amy improved her talents, Jo knitted Army socks and read to the group, Beth gathered supplies for future crafts and Meg sews. Each activity is suited to the girl that is doing it. Each girl chose something different. Yet they were united in their desire to be productive. I think this would make a great Relief Society mini-group. We could each bring something: scrapbooking, quilting, knitting, letters to write, whatever makes us happy. And just work and chat, or maybe do like the March girls and have someone bring a book and read a few chapters each time. The companionship would make it much more fun than just doing the same things individually.


misskate said...

I agree.. this book is a great teaching tool and example of ways to better your life.

On your Baby Steps blog, you have a list of books to read to little boys (fitting since Monkey is a boy). But that got me thinking that I should keep my eyes open for books to read to whatever little folks are eventually added to my little family.

Little Women has long since secured a place on that list.

Ritsumei said...

Yep, this is definitely a worthy book. I've got that 1000 good books list turned into a google document now, and it's pretty useful for that sort of thing. I'm not familiar with all the books the list makers put on there, but the ones that I do know I've mostly liked, and the ones that I don't like are easily marked as other great books.

Ritsumei said...

Derrr... the ones I don't like are easily marked as less than wonderful books. I generally black out the box where I mark if I've read them to Monkey, which is pretty easy. And it's nice to have a list of good books to start with. Obviously it's not a complete list, but it's been a lovely starting place.