Monday, April 13, 2015

Little Women Read-Along: Laurie Makes Mischief, and Jo Makes Peace (Ch. 21)

Really, you don't have to read this chapter at all -- you can just read the title, and you know what happens.  That naughty Laurie, teasing Meg in such a personal way.  I wish I knew what Marmee said to him, don't you?

And good for Jo, "handling" both Laurie and Mr. Laurence just the right way.  Laurie wants to be allowed to grow up, and Mr. Laurence is afraid of losing him, and Jo somehow manages to placate and reassure both of them.

Possible Discussion Questions:

Any idea what Jo is referring to when she says, "'Prunes and prisms' are my doom, and I may as well make up my mind to it" (p. 190)?


  1. Ah, yes, the chapter where I get completely fed up with Laurie. :)

    "Prunes and prisms" is a Dickensian reference, I'm pretty sure. I can't remember the book...Little Dorrit? Bleak House? It's one or the other. Anyway, there's a chaperone or something who instructs her charge to say "prunes and prisms" and a bunch of other p-words to improve her diction and pronunciation. It means, at least as I understood it, snobbish and lacking in humor. Things Jo was definitely not in danger of having!

    Footnote: Now that I think about it, it must be Little Dorrit, since there wasn't a chaperone of any kind of Bleak House. Let me do a google search and I'll be back if I find anything.

    1. Here's an interesting article:
      This answers your question a lot better than I did. :)

    2. Yes, does Laurie have to be such a dreadful boy sometimes? Grr.

      Thanks for the info! I've never read "Little Dorrit," so I had no clue. That article was cool -- she actually thought saying certain words could make your mouth turn a more attractive shape?! Fascinating!

  2. Wow, thanks for that CGrace...I will go visit that article now...

    I love this chapter! I love how, "Jo was dismissed, but chose to march up and down the hall like a sentinel, having some fear that the prisoner might bolt."
    What a strange girl Jo is, yet rather good at keeping the peace between thee grandson and the grandpa! I love her for it:)

    1. I loved that part too, Kelly-Anne! Good old Jo, standing guard.

  3. That was such an interesting article - now I will no longer wonder what on earth Alcott meant!

  4. (Sidenote, that picture you chose here is one of my favorites in LW.) But yes, I was thinking it must be Little Dorrit, too, and then reading the article was super interesting. Thanks for sharing, CGrace!

    *Spoilers* On the chapter itself.... Usually I'm a tremendous Jo/Mr. Bauer partisan, but I did get wondering about it a bit in here. Particularly when Jo later says that she and Laurie do/would fight all the time and everything would be horrid -- yet here it says she knew how to manage him. So (leaving allowance that maybe Alcott hadn't yet planned her sequel) she's making the point here that she could smooth him down, but still, that deep "fit" for marriage isn't there later -- which I can empathize with. It's definitely interesting. *End of Spoiler*

    1. Heidi, perhaps it would be too wearying for Jo to have to "manage" Laurie all the time if they were married? To subvert your own inclinations in order to keep someone else in line... that would be hard to do on a regular basis.

      I did read that Alcott was adamant that she would not pair Jo and Laurie up -- she wrote in a journal or diary somewhere that she wouldn't do it no matter how many people begged her to. (I think that was in the intro to my copy, but I've read a bunch about the writing of this lately, so I can't recall just where at the moment.) That makes me think that she was never inclined to pair them up.

      Part of Jo's problem, I think, is that she's not physically attracted to Laurie. Or intellectually attracted to him. She needs someone who stimulates her, mentally and physically -- who challenges her, but doesn't cross her, if that makes sense. At least, that's what I remember :-)


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