Time has passed and we fast forward our story a little and it's three years later. Our characters have continued and progressed, and now it is time for Meg's much anticipated wedding.
I found the description of the little home that was put together for the new Brooke Family a little bit on the annoying side. I recognize that it's probably fitting with the time this book is set, but it struck me a little peculiar that the little house seemed to be only referred to as "Meg's house" or a "house for Meg". John Brooke put in a lot of effort to earn for it and prepare it, but it was never "their house" or "our house", it was just for Meg.
And I must admit, before Ms. Alcott was done, I was a little tired of hearing about how wonderful a woman Meg was for all the housekeeping she was prepping for and eagerly anticipating and for doing it all herself.
"Yes, mother, I'm sure of that, " said Meg, listening respectfully to the little lecture; for the best of women will hold forth upon the all-absorbing subject of housekeeping. (Chapter 24, pg. 249)
"That's a housewifely taste which I am glad to see. I had a young friend who set up housekeeping with six sheets, but she had finger bowls for company, and that satisfied her," said Mrs. March, patting the damask tablecloths, with a truly feminine appreciation of their fineness. (Chapter 24, pg. 250)
Yes, cleaning is good. Yes, often it is the wife who does much of those thing.. ok. Enough with the exalting of it all already! To be honest, I wasn't super bothered by it really, but it did definitely make me roll my eyes :)
I love the opening to this chapter:
The June roses over the porch were awake bright and early on that morning, rejoicing with all their hearts in the cloudless sunshine, like friendly little neighbors, as they were. Quite flushed with excitement were their ruddy faces, as they swung in the wind, whispering to one another what they had seen; for some peeped in at the dining-room windows, where the feast was spread, some climbed up to nod and smile at the sisters as they dressed the bride, others waved a welcome to those who came and went on various errands in garden, porch, and hall , and all, from the rosiest full-blown flower to the palest baby-bud, offered their tribute of beauty and fragrance to the gentle mistress who had loved and tended them so long. (Chapter 25, pg. 255)
I love how that she uses the flowers as the "narrators", artfully drawing us right back into the action of our story. We ended with Meg tending the yard and dreaming of what it could look like, and three years later we return and the roses are blooming and adding a fragrant touch to the beautiful wedding site.
Also, I thought it was really cool that Meg kept the ceremony and decorations so simple. They were quite the contrast to the thought she had had earlier when she "felt some disappointment at the humble way in which the new life must begin... Meg couldn't help contrasting [the Moffat's] fine house and carriage, many gifts, and splendid outfit, with her own, and secretly wishing she could have the same (Chapter 24, pg. 245)."
I thought it was quite the testimony to her love of John, as well as her development from girl to woman, that she would have that secret wish but recognize that those things were nothing much when compared to the "patient love and labor John had put into the little home..." and that "when they sat together... talking over their small plans, the future always grew so beautiful and bright that she forgot Sallie's splendor, and felt herself the richest, happiest girl in Christendom (pg. 245)." And then on page 255 we read: "Neither silk, lace nor orange-flowers would she have. "I don't want to look strange or fixed up to-day," she said. "I don't want a fashionable wedding, but only those about me whom I love, and to them I wish to look and be my familiar self." I really thought that was a beautiful way to view a wedding and marriage.
This chapter seemed a return to Ms. Alcott's trend of mixing lessons with her story. In contrast to Meg's humble wedding (which Ms. Alcott clearly felt was the best, and most honest way to have it), Amy goes all out to put together a party for some girls she knows from school. She wishes for it to be a lavish and grand party, so that they will feel comfortable and enjoy themselves, despite her lack of funds. Then, in the end, despite the much effort and money spent on the event, only one girl attended the party. It seemed to me that the lesson here is not to pretend to be something we are not, even if we think it may impress others; to represent ourselves honestly.
Mrs. March seemed to think that Amy's plan was wanting in wisdom, and tried to talk her out of it. However, Amy was obstinate and Mrs. March conceded.
I really liked this quote though:
Mrs. March knew that experience was an excellent teacher, and when it was possible she left her children to learn alone the lessons which she would gladly have made easier, if they had not objected to taking advice as much as the did salts and senna (Chapter 26, pg. 266).
That really resonated with me. How often do we fall victim to embarrassment or trouble due to our own stubbornness and disregard for counsel or advice from those who may see a larger picture or have greater experience? At least for me, it's more frequently than I might like :) I felt it was nice to have this little story as a small reminder.