This is one of my favorite chapters. And a long one, too! I love how you can see Jo's affection for Professor Bhaer even though she hasn't really realized the extent of it yet -- such good writing, subtle but clear.
And my goodness, he's "almost 40," and she's only what, 20? Let's see, if we assume "almost 40" means he's 38, then if we adhere to the half-plus-seven rule for an "acceptable" age difference, half of 38 is 19, plus 7 is 26, and if Jo is 20, then yeeeeeeeah, he's really a little "too old" for Jo. HOWEVER! I happen to adore May-December romances (or April-September, as might be more the case here), so that may be why I've always loved them getting together. Or maybe my early love of this story helped shape my predilection for romances with big age gaps? Who knows!
Anyway, brave Jo, packing up and going off to a big city like New York to be a governess. I'm not sure I'd have the guts to do that. Yes, I went to college a thousand miles away from home, and I didn't know a single person there, but a tiny Christian college in a small midwestern city is not the same as a job in NYC, even the NYC of back then. I'm impressed.
I've got sense, if I haven't style, which is more than some people have, judging from the remarks of the elegant beings who clattered away, smoking like bad chimneys. I hate ordinary people! (p. 301)
"Read him well, and he will help you much, for the study of character in this book will help you to read it in the world and paint it with your pen" (p. 307). (Prof. Bhaer about Shakespeare)
Possible Discussion Questions:
Jo begins the December entry with "My Precious Betsey" (p. 304), which I took to mean she was addressing Beth, but then at the end, she says, "You see Beth manages [Laurie] better than I did," and "Thank Heaven Beth continues so comfortable" (p. 306), which doesn't sound as if she's directly addressing Beth at all. Any thoughts?