Saturday, March 28, 2015

Little Women Read-Along: Secrets (Ch. 14)

In which Jo secretly submits two of her stories for publication.  I so identify with that desire for secrecy -- what if the stories aren't accepted?  Better to keep the whole thing to yourself until you know you've succeeded.  Then no one can laugh or commiserate with you if you fail.

But anyway, I love Jo and Laurie's discussion as they walk home.  Such great pals!  Of course, you know I loved the part where Jo wants Laurie to teach her to fence so they can play Hamlet and Laertes :-)  I'm really struck by that comparison for the two of them.  Hamlet and Laertes grew up together in Elsinore, and presumably they palled around together as youngsters.  But then Hamlet went to Wittenburg University, and Laertes went to France, much like Jo goes to New York while Laurie goes to Europe.  Hamlet fell in love with Laertes' sister, much like Laurie marries Jo's sister.  Hamlet and Laertes fought each other, but made peace eventually, and Jo and Laurie of course have their falling out later on, but also make up.  So this comparison is a nifty little bit of foreshadowing, I think.  Though I rather think Jo switched who was who -- Laurie has much more of Hamlet's moodiness, and no sisters.

And then Laurie tells Jo his secret, which really isn't exactly his to tell:  Mr. Brooke has kept Meg's glove.  Jo is upset because she hates change and can see that Meg will be leaving the nest before long.  I hate change too, so I identify really strongly with Jo through the whole chapter.

Finally, hurrah for Jo!  Her stories get published!  She doesn't get paid for them, but it's a start :-)  Much like the for-the-love markets today, eh?

Favorite Lines:

Lying back on the sofa, she read the manuscript carefully through, making dashes here and there, and putting in many exclamation points, which looked like little balloons (p. 132).

Jo's eyes sparkled, for it is always pleasant to be believed in, and a friend's praise is always sweeter than a dozen newspaper puffs (p. 136).

"Don't try to make me grow up before my time, Meg.,,. Let me be a little girl as long as I can" (p. 137).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Do you think Laurie really expected Jo to be pleased by Mr. Brooke's interest in Meg?


  1. Awwww...this chapter makes me so happy! But then frustrated at Laurie... I think he knew exactly what he was doing and it was nothing more than boyish teasing. He knew that Jo would be upset by something like that (after all, they are very, very close), but it seemed like fun teasing at the time. Just my thoughts on that... ;) A lovely post, as always!

    1. Yes, CGrace, I think that because they're so close, Laurie must have known Jo would find his news unwelcome.

  2. I really identified with Jo in this chapter. Firstly the excitement of having something published - haven't exactly tried it, but it must really be something.
    And then the whole fear of change. When you have a perfectly good situation why does everybody have to grow up and change?

    On the discussion question, I think Laurie just didn't think it through. He probably thought it exciting and diverting that a proper romance was happening in front of them, and never thought that Jo might not find it so because it involved her sister.

    By the way, loved your whole Hamlet-Laertes comparison. I never thought about that.

    1. Rose, exactly! If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Things are all happy and jolly, so why change them?

      And maybe you're right, that Laurie wasn't thinking of Jo's reaction, just his own interest in the news. Hmm. Thoughtless Laurie, or provoking Laurie? Which is worse?

      And thanks, I'm glad you liked that comparison. I'd never made it before either (because last time I read this, I hadn't yet read Hamlet), but it did seem to work pretty well.

  3. What interesting points! I enjoyed this post, makes reading so much more enjoyable to look a bit deeper!
    Poor Jo! It must have been strange to think of her sister leaving - they had such a close family and a change would certainly have been very difficult to bear...

    Hooray for Jo! I love how different she is to most of the girls of that age - even at sixteen she runs and acts like a little sad that girls were expected to grow up and assume lady-like habits so young.

    1. Thank you, Kelly-Anne! I'm glad you found this post helpful :-)

      And I also love that Jo was willing to act like a girl yet. I've fought all my life to retain that childlike sense of play, but it does get harder the older you get.


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