Friday, May 29, 2015

Little Women Read-Along: The Valley of the Shadow (Ch. 40)

What a sad chapter :-(  We've all known this was coming for so long, and yet, when it comes right down to it, it's hard to say good-bye to Beth, isn't it?  I love how "even while preparing to leave life, she tried to make it happier for those who should remain behind" (p. 369).  Her kind gifts for the school children made me tear up more than her actual death did.

According to my edition's notes, that poem Jo wrote about Beth?  Alcott actually wrote it about her sister Elizabeth, shortly before her sister died.  That makes me cry too.

Favorite Lines:

With the wreck of her frail body, Beth's soul grew strong (p. 370).

Possible Discussion Questions:

If Beth had not died, but simply continued the way she was at the end of the last book (a little weak, but busy), what do you think she would have done with her life?

14 comments:

  1. It is really sad . . . I've cried a lot over this chapter, too, and I almost never cry when reading fiction. Not that I'm trying to be insensitive--it's just not the way my constitution works :)

    I do like the last sentence, when Jo sees how peaceful her sister looks and "thanked God that Beth was well at last." It reminds me that her life wasn't really 'over'--she had just gone to live in a better place.

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    1. Jessica, I only used to cry over books and movies if an animal died. It wasn't until I got almost through college that I started crying over them more. So I understand completely!

      The ending was very hopeful and peaceful, I agree.

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  2. In my imagination, Beth could be a 'normal' woman despite of her weakness. She would obviously be the one she used to be. She would fall in love with the right guy and get married, just like the rest of her sisters. Her husband should be a special one, humble and caring. But I don't think she would survive if she had a baby :(
    However, maybe she would suffer more, who knows.

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    1. Bzee, I like your ideas! Especially about a husband for her. You're probably right about childbearing, though. She's a bit like Melanie Wilkes, isn't she?

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  3. Oh yes...a big teardrop rolled down my face in this chapter...:( I miss dear Beth!
    I think, had she lived, she would have lived at home the rest of her life -- helping her fanily, blessing others with kind acts...loving her nieces and nephews... Perhaps she may even have married?
    When reading the poem Jo wrote for Beth, it struck me that it may have been a poem written for Alcott's sister... Very touching, but unbelievably sad!

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    1. Kelly-Anne, your ideas kind of match mine. I think Beth would have lived at home, caring for her parents and being cared for by them. Though perhaps if a very special man had come along, she might have married... and maybe continued to live at home?

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  4. I loooove your new header, Hamlette! :)

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    1. Thanks! I suddenly felt I needed something much more summery and sunny :-)

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  5. Every time I read this book, I know that this chapter is coming, so I brace myself for the sadness. The strange thing is, is that every time I read this chapter, all the walls I've built to brace myself come tumbling down. It's as if I am reading the chapter all over again for the first time, so it is impossible not to cry.
    Wow. I had no idea that Alcott wrote that poem for her sister in real life. That knowledge definitely makes this chapter more heart breaking.
    I think Beth would have lived her life the same way she was at the end. being quiet, but doing her duties and filling everyone's life with love.

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    1. Ekaterina, yes, it doesn't help at all to know it's coming, does it?

      Beth is probably the most consistent character in the book, never changing a whole lot, so you're likely right :-)

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  6. It is a sad chapter, though I almost felt sadder in the chapter where she told Jo.
    The poem Jo wrote was really beautiful, and that little conversation where Beth is so happy she hasn't lived in vain was so touching

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    1. Rose, yes, I think her telling Jo was sadder.

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  7. Beth has always been my favorite. It breaks my heart every time I read this chapter. And I didn't know about the poem, but that makes so much sense, especially with how well Alcott wrote this entire book. There is so much of it she understands, I think, and puts herself within her characters bit by bit.

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    1. Hannah, I agree. I think the whole book has such an added depth because she truly understood the things they were going through, they weren't just imaginary.

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