by Louisa May Alcott
This story has been so dear to me when I was young. For I have first seen its cartoon adaptation before reading the book itself. Knowing that the story was so long ago, my memory had forgotten how ravishing it was when I have first seen it. And yep! I already know the ending though not that clear. Yet I had the hint that it was not pleasant for me when I knew it. However, I still kept my thoughts and purchased the book, hoping that it could change what I saw when I was young.
I buried myself reading the book for three days non-stop. Would take a pause only to eat and do some chores. I felt bliss reading certain scenes of Laurie and Jo and the rest of the characters. (How come they didn’t end up together?) I know everyone would find it absurd that I almost throw the book outside the window when Jo declined despite Laurie’s pleading to love him back. It was cruel! I know Jo had her own rightful reasons yet still don’t believe she can’t love him more than anyone else in the bookworld! Right then I hoped it could’ve written differently. I knew I know the ending, and here I was complaining in the same argument I raised a decade ago.
That very reason made me look for the author’s point of writing such detour in Jo’s love affair. Yet I only found some comments of the critics saying
“Instead of Laurie, Jo gets a big, middle-aged German professor for a husband… He provides moralisms and control, telling Jo to stop writing lurid stories. The professor is sufficiently old so that Jo’s interest in him cannot be construed as sexual. Louisa offers him as a sop to readers, for her preference was to leave Jo single. Her guilt and depression made her unable t contemplate intimacy either for herself or for Jo.”
If that is so, I’d rather not let Jo marry anyone at all if she’ll just end up with Professor Bhaer. I had no much complains about the other set up of the story for the morals were true and good manifestation of great women. Jo’s independent thought of being a woman herself is what I admire the most. Her boyish ways illuminates my own personality and her statement “then we’ll be old maids” which she said during a conversation with her sisters and mother about getting married where poor don’t get a chance in terms of finding a great man if they don’t get themselves noticed. This tickled my own mind for I have said it once to myself.
Alcott won’t be hearing me anymore, but I hope she did just write the thing if she thought that more generations will read it. I can never agree with the end of Jo’s romantic affair. Yet, I can’t complain no more for what is done is done!
So sorry for the rant, it’s just that I’m a great love-story aficionado myself. I can stand tragic ends for I know they still ended up together. But the very reason that there is a handful chance that these characters be together, they were brought in a different path by the author who penned it. Though how disgusted I am, I still commend Alcott for a classic work she has done, for I have fallen for it the moment I watched it on TV. Much more reasons fall behind her writing of this book, I know. And that she only knows herself.
With my overflowing interest to give out my own point of view, I decided to answer some questions, the book has provided for discussion.
Why do you suppose this novel continues to be so popular so long after its publication? Does it address timeless issues? If yes, what are they?
Given that the family was poor with not much to offer but morals and values, I somehow had a glimpse of my own life from them. Though not precisely as the March’s, I also had my own share of humiliation, mockery and embarrassment having to afford not much. Yet the fact that I tried to stand to being myself and took control not to fancy anyone with anything remained in me. I always say that in some way and somehow, I can have all tangible aspirations fitted to myself with my own efforts.
Aside from the fact that the novel can touch somebody’s lives it also poses issues of today. Even there is a great effort of alleviating poverty it still exists. And the stereotype perception on poor people, though not rampant, but still evident. They say that it demands a person to be ruthless and powerful to live in a ruthless world. But I do so think that “character should weigh more”. Sometimes people forget the value of character that they soon forget they have it. And there is nothing left of them but wealth and power, yet happiness have forsaken them. I love how Alcott portrayed a family full of good character, which gives out morals at the end of the story which is a good time to reflect on real situation. Every reader would be able to conclude even for themselves that simple life leads to greater happiness.
Though how much I encouraged myself to agree, in this modern times and fast-paced information technology world, someone has to be ruthless to achieve the goals set for itself and perseverance to take in everything because sometimes it demands so or else be left behind. I have met quite a few people who have been lacking in character and quite pitiless when it comes to comrades, and they settled in high positions they have set for themselves. However, I don’t know if they are happy enough with this stepping on people’s pride.
I hope there still exists a family like the March’s, a great example of what a family is and should be. But the thing is, there is no family similar to the March’s nowadays. If there is, there has to be mixed practices in it.
Alcott wrote in her Journal that she would not have Jo marry Laurie simply to please her readers. Do you feel that Alcott should have had these two characters so similar in so many ways end up together? However would it change the rest of the novel?
I precisely think they should have ended up together for they have given the spice at the very beginning of the novel, and if I have not mistaken could also be the reason why readers managed to read up to the end. Having them together is a satiable ending for everyone who read it.
Reading towards the end of the novel seemed to be an abrupt detour implying an author’s change of heart I guess. As it was said that characters in the novel have their own life counterparts, I got curious whether Laurie stands for someone in Ms. Alcott’s life, and as the real life was a complicated love affair she might have decided not to give a happy ending on the novel as well. (this is all but curious thinking for me). Such change started on the “Heartache chapter” when there was a chance for Jo and Laurie but it was clearly cut off. Amy was supposed to marry Fred but then changed her mind. And above all the relationships that could happen, why can’t Marmee agree with Laurie and Jo to see through. I was disgusted the moment Mrs. March has given out a notion that Jo and Laurie’s character repels which is destruction if they ever get married. Love could’ve blossom if permitted by the author. And as Professor Bhaer’s character emerged towards the end, I never thought of him as perfect half for Jo but a moral adviser and a loyal friend to the March’s which I wish should’ve stayed as it is.