Notes on Little Women Themes

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Little Women Topic Tracking: Poverty

Chapter 1

Poverty 1: The girls, upset because they are not getting Christmas presents this year because of the war and other difficulties, are brooding over the fact that some girls are rich, and some have nothing at all. They think this is unfair, and they think that having nothing is hard to deal with.

Chapter 2

Poverty 2: On Christmas morning, the March girls find that their mother has gone to help a poor family after a person came begging at their house. She went to them immediately to see what was needed. Hannah says that their mother is one of the most giving people she has seen.

Chapter 3

Poverty 3: After the party at the Gardiners', Jo says that fine young ladies probably don't have more fun that she and her sisters do, even though the March girls do not have the money to afford nice gowns, gloves and other fancy things.

Chapter 6

Poverty 4: The March girls decide that the Laurence mansion is the Palace Beautiful, just as in the book, Pilgrim's Progress. But, also just as in the book, they have to get past the lions to get inside. One of the lions is the fact that the Laurences are rich and the Marches are poor. The Marches are uncomfortable allowing the Laurences to offer them favors, as the Marches cannot return them.

Chapter 7

Poverty 5: Amy says that she wishes she had the money Laurie spends on his horse. She says this out loud to get her sisters' attention because she wants to buy pickled limes to bring to school. She believes the limes will surely bring popularity to her. Meg decides to give Amy a little money to spend on the limes, in order to make her feel more respected in school.

Chapter 9

Poverty 6: Meg is preparing for a party at the Moffats while she is staying with them for a visit. The girls ask her what she will wear. When they find that she only has one dress which she has already worn, they are surprised and think it odd. One of the girls offers a dress of her own for Meg to wear to the party, so that she will be properly turned out.

Poverty 7: Mrs. March tells her daughters that she does not plan to have them marry for money, but rather for happiness. She tells them that they should not marry for money because love truly makes a home. Money can be a noble thing if it is used well, but it should not be a goal.

Chapter 13

Poverty 8: Meg says that her "Castle in the Air" or the thing that she most wants in life is a big house with a great deal of food, clothes, furniture, people, and money. There, she would have servants and wouldn't need to work.

Chapter 18

Poverty 9: While Beth is sick with scarlet fever, Jo begins to realize what makes Beth wonderful. She realizes that Beth is unselfish and lives for others, to make them happy. Beth's small virtues are more valuable than all the money in the world.

Chapter 23

Poverty 10: Aunt March does not approve of Meg marrying Mr. Brooke, because he is poor. She asks if any of his relatives are rich. Meg says he has no rich relatives, but he has many good friends. Aunt March tells her that they can't live on friends, and that if they try it they'll find they haven't got any.

Chapter 24

Poverty 11: Ned Moffat marries Sallie Gardiner. They receive a big house, carriage, outfits, and nice gifts. Meg is jealous when she compares what she has to that.

Chapter 25

Poverty 12: Sallie says that Meg's wedding was the best one she has been to in a while. She says she doesn't know why that should be, since it wasn't stylish or rich.

Chapter 26

Poverty 13: When asking her mother if she can have the girls from her drawing class over for lunch, Amy says that, although the girls know that she is not rich, it has never made any difference, and they have always been kind to her. Her mother says that money is not a reason for them to be unkind to others.

Chapter 27

Poverty 14: Jo finds that she is satisfied to earn money. Poverty has a good side, in that it forced her to work for what she needed; necessity was her inspiration.

Chapter 28

Poverty 15: Meg and John find that they are happy even though they do not have much money and realize that love wouldn't feed and clothe them.

Poverty 16: Meg is allowed access to the money that John earns for them. The only thing that he asks is for her to keep track of every penny spent and remember that they aren't rich.

Poverty 17: Even though Meg knows that she and John can't buy many things, the temptation to spend money comes in the form of a new dress.

Poverty 18: Meg is tired of being poor. She sees her rich friend Sallie being able to buy many things and is jealous because she cannot do the same.

Poverty 19: Meg feels guilty because she is John's wife and is supposed to help and support him. Instead she expressed her frustration at being poor and spent the money he earned carelessly, on things that weren't necessary.

Chapter 31

Poverty 20: Amy decides that she can't stand being poor if she can help it. She decides that one of the sisters should marry a rich man, and that it might as well be her if she has the opportunity.

Chapter 37

Poverty 21: Amy tells Laurie that foreign life will polish anybody. As for her appearance, she tells him, she makes herself look good on the small budget she has; she is used to make the most of the little that can be afforded.

Chapter 41

Poverty 22: Amy finds that she needs more than money to support her through the troubles she has.

Chapter 44

Poverty 23: Amy tells Laurie to not worry about Jo and Professor Bhaer marrying. She says that it should not matter how old or how rich Bhaer is. All that should marry is whether they are in love. She adds that women should not ever marry for money.

Poverty 24: Amy and Laurie decide that they will use their money to do good. They will help those ordinary people who are not beggars, and who are too proud to ask for what they need. She says that she will help them not with outright charity, but in delicate ways which will not upset their pride.

Chapter 46

Poverty 25: Jo tells Professor Bhaer that she doesn't mind him being poor. In fact, she tells him, she could not marry someone who was rich because she would not like it. She tells him that she has no fear of poverty.

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