Little Women Chapter 34
Jo dreams of having the money to give Beth everything she could want or need. To earn money, Jo begins writing sensation stories. She goes to see Mr. Dashwood, publisher of the Weekly Volcano, and submits a story. The next week, when she returns, he says he will print it if it can be altered. Jo notices that he has crossed out all of the moral reflections. Mr. Dashwood tells her that morals don't sell because people want to be amused, not preached to. Jo agrees when she finds she can get $25 to $30 for each story, but she chooses to not have her name published on them. She tells Mr. Dashwood that she has more stories.
Jo felt guilty writing and publishing trashy sensation stories, and she decides to not tell her family because they wouldn't approve. She writes more stories, and she begins to go to police records and lunatic asylums and newspapers for story ideas. She gets a glimpse of a tragic world she was unfamiliar with before.
Jo and Professor Bhaer get invited to a writer's Symposium by a woman in the boarding house, Miss Norton. Here Jo first meets other writers and realizes that they are very ordinary people. A philosophical discussion begins, and Jo is transfixed by it even though she has no clue what anyone is talking about. She watches Professor Bhaer speak and decides that he is a great man because he expresses his ideas and holds his ground.
One day Bhaer comes to see Jo for her German lesson with a paper hat he has made out of a newspaper. He is unaware that it is still on his head, and Jo decides not to tell him. He asks why she is smiling, and she tells him that he has not taken off his hat. He discovers the paper hat. He unfolds it and looks at the newspaper and says that he does not approve of newspapers such as that. Jo thinks for a minute that it is the Weekly Volcano, but it is not. But in that moment she blushes and gives herself away. Professor Bhaer burns the newspaper and says that he would rather give young boys gunpowder to play with. Jo tries to defend herself by saying that there is a living to me made on sensation stories. "'There is a demand for whisky, but I think you and I do not care to sell it. If the respectable people knew what harm they did, they would not feel that the living was honest.'" Chapter 34, pg. 418-9
Jo thinks what a fire her stories will make. She burns them all and wishes that she didn't have a conscience. She tries to write a moral tale, then children's stories, and fails at both. She decides that she doesn't know anything and won't write until she does. Bhaer know she has stopped writing because she doesn't have ink on her hands anymore and she goes downstairs in the evening more often.
She stays at the boarding house until June. She says goodbye to everybody the night before she leaves, as she is leaving early in the morning. She tells the Professor to come visit her family because she thinks they would all like him very much. She invites him to come to her best friend Laurie's graduation, but the Professor, thinking that Laurie is more than a friend, says that he cannot make it. The Professor sees her off at the station early the next morning.