Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Little Women Read-Along: Beth Finds the Palace Beautiful (Ch. 6)

Awww.  This chapter made me tear up a couple times.  Beth is so sweet!  And so is Mr. Laurence, once you get past his crusty exterior.  I absolutely love that he listens to her play his piano, but secretly.  And Laurie stands guard in the hallway so she won't even be bothered by servants -- so completely wonderful!  My margins are full of little hearts and smiley faces there.

Not much else to say, actually.  We're continuing the whole Pilgrim's Progress theme, each girl getting their turn, which is a fun way to structure this early part of the novel.  I think one of the reasons I was disappointed with Pilgrim's Progress when I read it was that this book made it sound way more interesting than I found it to be.


Favorite Lines:

How blithely she sang that evening, and how they all laughed at her because she woke Amy in the night by playing the piano on her face in her sleep (p. 54).

...love casts out fear, and gratitude can conquer pride (p. 57).


Possible Discussion Question:  It says that at first Mr. Laurence was too gruff and loud around Beth and scared her away because he was not "aware of her infirmity" (p. 53).  What do you think Alcott means by "infirmity" here?

14 comments:

  1. Although sometimes Beth gets on my nerves with her shyness, I get her love for music! I think Alcott was referring to her shyness as an infirmity? I think my favorite line in this chapter was that Beth's granted wish made her happy because "she was so grateful for this blessing that a greater was given her." I couldn't think of a theme for that discussion question a few chapters ago, but I think Alcott has been highlighting that unseen qualities and blessings make us happier than material possessions.

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    1. Ashley, I'm shy myself, though not nearly so shy as Beth, but that has made me sympathetic toward her, I know. That would be an interesting discussion question -- who is everyone's least-favorite March sister? I think I'll use that in my next post :-)

      And yes, I think you're right about the theme! Alcott definitely seems to value inner qualities over possessions, and that one will make people happier than the other.

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  2. You already said everything I was going to point out! :) And I even agree about Pilgrim's Progress....only I still haven't been able to finish it. I need to one of these days (eventually) just to say I've done it.

    I think Alcott's speaking a bit tongue-in-cheek/with humor when she refers to Beth's "infirmity." And I like how she says the slippers were "finished before anyone got tired of them." That always makes me smile, because it can happen so easily with a handiwork project, and when she says it so conversationally it's like sitting down and chatting with a friend. :) That issue's been around for a while it seems!

    And another favorite line (besides Laurie mounting guard in the hall): "...they soon forgot their pride and interchanged kindnesses without stopping to think which was the greater."

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    1. Lol, Heidi! Well, it WAS a short chapter.

      (I've adopted your practice of putting people's names in post responses -- that was such a great idea! Then people who check the "notify me" box can see exactly when I'm replying to them, especially when I've got multiple responses to a post to reply to. Thanks for the idea that I totally stole!)

      I think Pilgrim's Progress was only popular years ago because there weren't any more interesting things to read. Besides the Bible and Shakespeare, I mean. That MUST be it, right?

      And yes, clearly the problem of getting tired of a project before it's really done is not a new one :-)

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    2. You stole my idea?!?!?! No, don't worry it makes it SO much easier! ;D

      And yes. I haven't been able to figure out exactly why Pilgrim's Progress was so popular -- though I'm starting to feel like I should delve into it and write a blog post about it sometime. (In which case I would need to have finished it first, right? ;)) It was certainly popular, though, even with lots of other reading around (I mean, Jo for instance, reads a wide selection). Maybe it had already achieved "classic" status, whereas a lot of what we consider classics now were still the "new books" of the day? And parents definitely seemed to be using it to help inculcate a certain worldview in their children, etc. That and Foxe's Book of Martyrs which seems to pop up with Shakespeare a lot as well (along with the Bible, of course).

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    3. Thanks, Heidi! I knew you'd understand :-)

      I do feel sometimes like I'm just missing how Pilgrim's Progress is good, so I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't "get it."

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  3. In at least one movie version they make that line even more tongue-in-cheek by having Amy inform Mr. Laurence solemnly, "She has an infirmity—she's shy."

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    1. Elisabeth -- how funny! I'm on a quest to see the 1949 and 1933 versions, so I'll keep an ear out for that line :-)

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  4. This chapter is one of my favorites:)

    When I was reading it, I imagined the scene in the '94 movie when he gives her the piano after her illness, which always makes me cry a little;)

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    1. It's a good one, Arwen, that's for sure.

      And yes, that scene in the '94 makes me cry too! Or it did the last time I watched it, but I seemed to be crying over every fourth scene or so because I hadn't seen it in so long.

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  5. I am still with you on this delightful read-along...just been a bit preoccupied of late;)
    Aww! Such a gorgeous chapter painted so beautifully by Alcott! While I cannot relate to Beth too much, she has a special place in my heart...she has such a compassionate, giving nature and I dearly love how she made slippers for the old gentleman! This gift certainly softened his rather gruff exterior!
    *sigh*...how this book makes me feel all cosy and warm!

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    1. What a great description! This book makes me feel cosy and warm too.

      Glad you're still with us :-) Honestly, I've had a really hectic weekend and am a couple days behind on responding to comments, so I know how being preoccupied goes. Real life does come first!

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  6. This is my favourite chapter! The relationship between Beth and Mr ALurence is so sweet and touching. Maybe Beth is my favourite character after all, after all it is the chapters centered around her that touch me the most.

    I accidentally read this chapter in a public place, and I'm sure the others must think me crazy, for half the time I sat there with a wide smile and the other half I tried really hards not to tear completely up.

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    1. Rose, yes, Beth is very sweet, and I could see her being a favorite. She is probably more inspiring to me than the other sisters, since she's so patient and uncomplaining.

      Back before I had kids, when I had a job, I would read on my lunch breaks back in the break room at Walmart. I had several co-workers that enjoyed watching me read because I would laugh aloud or look very sad, and it seems if my book was very exciting I made all sorts of faces, unknowingly :-) So I know just how that goes!

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