Sunday, May 10, 2015

Little Women Read-Along: Our Foreign Correspondent (Ch. 31)

What a lot happens in this short chapter!  I just love the use of letters here, don't you?  It works so well to give us glimpses of Amy's physical and emotional journey without devolving into a travelogue.  I do like the epistolary format, though -- I know some people don't.  Isn't it cute how Amy sprinkles little French phrases into her letters?  I can imagine her doing that in conversation too.  Not to be pretentious and show off, but just to practice and use what she's learned.

And then, by the end of the chapter, she's practically engaged to Fred Vaughn.  Oh my.  Isn't it interesting how practical she is about this?  Not mercenary, but practical and clear-headed.  She knows she doesn't love Fred, but she's decided she's okay with that.  She makes me think of Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice, marrying Mr. Collins for the security he would provide.  Though I think Fred Vaughn is a good deal more agreeable than Mr. Collins, of course.  

Favorite Lines: 

I ought to have read more, for I find I don't know anything, and it mortifies me (p. 285).

Possible Discussion Questions:  

Do you think Amy and Fred could be happy together?

6 comments:

  1. This is actually one of my favorite chapters! Wouldn't it be marvelous to be able to just pack your bags and set out on such an adventure? And late nineteenth century into the bargain? :) I love how Amy's writing style changes just slightly with each country she writes from.... Not in a chameleon-type fashion, but absorbing the sights and sounds and culture....the flavor of each place.

    And hmmm. I don't know. I think Amy and Fred could have been happy together, in a calm, quiet way. He definitely sounds like he was a good, upstanding young man. Honestly, I am always happy she ends up with Laurie, but (if it's permissable to question Alcott), I think she might have been able to tweak Fred just slightly, making him not quite so nice (unless that's the point -- making it everyday-ish with two fine young men where one's right and one just isn't). As the reader, we just don't get to know Fred that closely (so why exactly Amy didn't fall in love with him, if that makes sense). Laurie does make a comment later and Amy mentions him gambling here, so at the very least, perhaps he wasn't extremely steady.

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    1. Oh yes, Heidi, me too! And to travel in Europe not just for a week or two, but for months and months and months! How amazing.

      I think Amy and Fred could have been happy together, though perhaps not as happy as Amy and Laurie. But maybe that's the point -- that what makes someone "the right one" for you is that you choose to marry them, not that they're the only one in the world that's right for you. Amy could have chosen Fred instead, and that wouldn't have been "wrong," it just would have been different. Does that make sense?

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  2. Aww! I love Amy more and more! Perhaps we should have been a bit more lenient towards her in Little Women when she was just a pesky child! Thank goodness she grew up to become a quiet, gentle and accomplished young lady!
    I am happy for Laurie that he ended up marrying Amy (pretty cute, seeing as she was always 'the child' in years gone by!), but I think she could have been happy with Fred...I don't think theirs would have been a marriage where there was much love, but certainly respect and happiness in general...
    Quite odd that she was so calm about Fred and the prospect of marrying him...wasn't she always the romantic one of the family...?!!!

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    1. Kelly-Anne, that's how it goes in real life too, though, isn't it? We get annoyed by someone who is childish (even if they're a child), and then realize they're quite nice once they grow up a little.

      I'm happy for Laurie too :-) And Amy, since they seem happy together.

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  3. I love that this chapter is only letters - I have a weakness for epistolary stories. It must have been wonderful to travel for such a long time, I wish I could do that (in the 19th century of course).
    As to Amy and Fred, I think they could have been happy together. Amy is very practical about it all but that also shows she has thought the situation through.

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    1. Rose, I love epistolary books too! My favorite Anne of Green Gables book is Anne of Windy Poplars because of all the letters. And I love The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Daddy Long Legs for all the letters too.

      Wouldn't it be wonderful to take even a couple of months and travel around Europe? My sister-in-law did that before college, with a friend and the friend's grandmother, and I swear it was just like they were in a novel. Except for the part where they got their noses pierced... but I digress.

      You're right that Amy is practical, and I think she was going into that relationship with very realistic expectations, so I think it would have worked. But I'm glad for her that she didn't.

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