This book just gets better and better. If you're a fan of Professor Bhaer or Jo, anyway :-) I keep going, "This chapter is my favorite. No, this chapter is my favorite." Isn't this one wonderful? How subtly Professor Bhaer influences Jo to give up the writing he believes is beneath her, and which her conscience is telling her she shouldn't continue! Just shows you what great power a good friend can have, whether we realize it or not.
And then by the end, I'm feeling so very sad for Professor Bhaer. When I got to the part where, "'It is not for me, I must not hope it now,' he said to himself, with a sigh that was almost a groan" (p. 321), I kind of choked up for a minute. Oh my goodness, poor, good, dear Professor Bhaer. And yet, he was so good and kind, even in his disappointment, as to see Jo off at the train, with "a bunch of violets to keep her company."
She took to writing sensation stories, for in those dark ages, even all-perfect America read rubbish (p. 309).
He was neither rich nor great, young nor handsome, in no respect what is called fascinating, imposing, or brilliant, and yet he was as attractive as a genial fire, and people seemed to gather about him as naturally as about a warm hearth (p. 313).
Possible Discussion Questions:
Of course, here also comes the great discussion that we've been dipping into in the comments already: Alcott wrote sensational stories herself, and reportedly enjoyed writing them more than writing moralistic stories for the young. Alcott clearly based Jo on herself. Are we then to think that Alcott regards the writing she enjoyed to be worthless or dangerous? Or is she putting this here as an obligatory warning she thinks her audience wants to hear, a warning she herself had no intention of heeding? What do you think?
Alcott says Jo "was living in bad society, and imaginary though it was, its influence affected her, for she was feeding heart and fancy on dangerous and unsubstantial food" (p. 311). Do you agree that reading "trashy" books of any sort (gothic romances, bodice-rippers, horror, lurid murder mysteries, etc) will affect you even though you know they're imaginary? Is there more danger in what you read, or in how much you read of it? Any other thoughts on this subject?