06 April 2009

Further Developments...

Chapter 30
I thought this chapter had some interesting ideas present in the circumstances described. I found myself admiring Amy a little more than I have previously. For example, when she and Jo went and did their social calls, I felt that Amy's behavior was a little over the top (as was Jo's, just in the opposite direction) and kind of stilted and unnatural and, over all, a bit confusing and silly. But I feel like, in Chapter 30, things were resolved and the necessity of her actions explained a little.

Originally I thought the social calls very silly and they seemed to me superfluous; why officially visit people you already are friends with? However, since reading this chapter, I now think that their social calls, though very foreign to me, were part of what was expected at that time. Also, from the reactions described in this chapter, it seems very likely that those calls were the first that the people had met personally the March sisters. Perhaps it was like they were "coming out" to society. And while I do feel this was a highly exaggerated example, I think we can learn that it often doesn't sit well with others or help ourselves in future encounters if we poke fun of others and act unnaturally.

Anyway, so Amy had to bear the brunt of peoples' reactions at the fair from Jo's behaviors. But she bore them very well. I liked what she said about her motivations for her non-retributive actions, "I can't explain exactly, but I want to be above the little meannesses and follies and faults that spoil so many women (Chapter 30, pg. 316)."

Chapter 31
While I do find that I am respecting Amy's character more and more, I do still think she's terribly silly. I enjoyed her enthusiastic and bubbly descriptions of the places they had visited, but I didn't care for that whole bit about letting Fred fall in love with her while she will accept, even though not in love; he's wealthy and fond of her and she hates poverty. That doesn't sit well with me. Amy sort of laughs off the idea that she "may be mercenary", but I think it a poor idea to marry for marriage's sake.

Chapter 32
I must admit that I was a little surprised to find a sort of love-triangle in our book. I do feel for Beth; Laurie is so gentle with her, and he is the only man she's not been afraid of, it seems natural that her maturing heart would be drawn to him.... but I don't believe that he thinks of her that way. Rather, it seems he has his eye on our Jo. But again, she doesn't think that way of him. It's a little sad.. It's never pleasant to see love go unrequited. However, I would have to agree with Marmee's assessment of the match with Jo and Laurie, though my reasons are slightly different.

I do agree that Jo, whatever her age, is not in a place where she is interested in or ready for marriage; Jo needs to "enjoy [her] liberty till [she] tires of it (Chapter 32, pg. 339)." There is much good that can come of being single; a strength that can come of such independence. I think Jo had something when she asked her mother on page 339, "...for I couldn't fall in love with the dear old fellow merely out of gratitude, could I?" To that I would answer a resounding NO.

But more importantly, Jo does not really respect Laurie. They are fine friends and have many great adventures together, but at the very core of things, she rather mothers Laurie. In that I feel they are not on equal plains; they would be unequally yoked. That is not the footing any marriage should begin on. Love comes from mutual fondness and deep affection built on a foundation of respect.


Ritsumei said...

Ahhh... now I see why you said so little about my post! I'll have to ponder the "mothering" thing. I'm not sure that I see it. They're such good friends. And while if she's not in love, she's not and there's no way to force the heart, I think it's a deliberate choice she's making, not that she couldn't be in love with him. She's been Marmee's "man of the house" the whole book, always doing and saying "manly" things, and she'd have to give that up to get married. I think that, not Laurie & his merits or flaws, is the heart of the issue here. And I must say, the idea of her married to a Professor more than double her age is rather... icky.

misskate said...

Haha.. yeah, sorry about that.. I just had more to say that I thought would be better said in my post rather than a huge long comment :)

I dunno.. I mean, yes, they are good friends.. and I do support marriage..... but I don't think I support their getting married to each other.

Have you even watched Little Women, the movie? I do have to wonder sometimes if my reading of this book is influenced by having seen the movie and how the characters interact and having a vague knowledge of how it ends... but they make the professor so very endearing and caring that the age difference seems to matter very little. So far the movie (in my memory) seems to keep pretty well with the feel of the book, more or less, so my suspicion is that we will love the professor by the end of the book too.

Ritsumei said...

You may be some right about Jo & Laurie; Laurie is such a silly thing. But in a lot of ways, I think he's as much a symbol as anything. Jo's deathly afraid of marriage, of change, of the family growing up and changing (never mind that the change they have in mind means more family to love), that I think she rejects Laurie more because she's rejecting that change than because she really sat down and considered him for his own merits. That's one of the reasons why I think that Marmee's comments were such a disservice to her. Rather than making her take a long look at the underlying issue, Marmee tells her she's just fine and helps her to run away from the problem. Of course, in this case, I think that Jo is really saying and doing much that Ms. Alcott said, did, or thought, and it's not too surprising that the insightful Mrs. March missed the boat on this one: she can't have any insights that Ms. Alcott herself doesn't enjoy! And while Jo does eventually marry (someone old enough to be her FATHER; it'll be interesting to see what her parents say), Ms. Alcott never did.

misskate said...

That is an interesting thing to consider: all this could be symbolic.

It is also possible that, if fear of change is the root of Jo's rejection, Marmee may not see that.. she is only human and un-omnipotent, I don't know that she has had the opportunity to see the fear (present in Jo and Laurie's conversations mostly had in private) as clearly as we readers have. Perhaps she has good instincts, but maybe for other reasons than the real, underlying cause.