I do feel sorry for Laurie, don't you? He's so set on Jo, and so fond of her, and probably kind of in love with her too. And she discourages him any chance she gets because she's unable to think of him as anything more than a friend. No wonder Laurie's prone to the occasion "Byron fits of gloom" (p. 290).
But I feel sorry for Jo too, because after all, you can't make yourself fall in love with someone. You can, of course, gradually fall in love with someone you thought you didn't love, but it's not quite the same thing. You know Jo wants to make Laurie happy, but she can't pretend to love him, and she knows they wouldn't be happy together anyway.
"I never force my children's confidence, and I seldom have to wait for long" (p. 288).
...she preferred imaginary heroes to real ones... (p. 290).
"I'm glad you can't flirt, Jo. It's really refreshing to see a sensible, straight-forward girl, who can be jolly and kind without making a fool of herself" (p. 293).
But young as she was, Jo had learned that hearts, like flowers, cannot be rudely handled, but must open naturally (p. 295).
Possible Discussion Questions:
Laurie says that "pretty, modest girls are never talked about, except respectfully, among gentlemen" (p. 293). This has been my experience today, too. Has it been yours as well?
Do you think Beth suspects that Jo thinks Beth loves Laurie?