Classic Remarks is meme hosted at Pages Unbound that asks questions every Friday about classic literature in hopes of starting a conversation. This week’s prompt is:
Which March sister from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is your favorite and why? Do you agree with the way their lives played out?
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
A favorite from my childhood! I don’t remember how old I was the first time I read this book, but likely around 10 or so. I hated it that my local library didn’t have any of the other books in the series. I never did get to read Little Men or Jo’s Boys, but Little Women certainly has charms enough to satisfy. The movie with Winona Ryder as Jo came out in 1994 and it was wonderful! After that I had so many more people to talk about the book with, even if they hadn’t read it I knew they were familiar with the material now.
One of my favorite questions to ask friends was, “Which March sister are you?” I got varied responses, but the vast majority of people identified with Jo. No one ever asked me the question back, good thing because I don’t have one. That’s because over the years I came to see the March girls as four parts of one person. Everyone has a little of each of them inside. Or at least I felt like I did. So I guess I’m going to cheat a little with this question and say they are all my favorite! I’ll start youngest to oldest…
(Lasciate ogni speranza voi chentrate; rovini avanti!)
She may be the hardest for girls identify with. Probably because she is one of the least likeable of the four daughters. She certainly is hard to get along with. She battles with the faults of selfishness and vanity. She can be a little vindictive, and has been at turns spoiled and ignored by her older sisters, which leads her to some bad behavior. But she is also (like all the girls) humble enough to take direction and make changes to her personality where needed. In adulthood, we learn she is very kind to her caustic, elderly aunt, and a hard worker, becoming an accomplished artist. She is a girl who has learned her lessons, and handles herself with grace and honesty, she is after all the one who sets Laurie straight when he starts to misbehave. None of us are without our little vanities (not even Jo with her one good feature) and moments of selfishness. I’d like to say I don’t have my Amy moments, but you know how it is.
An angel in the flesh. Well, almost. She has to deal with severe shyness, but I never really saw that as a fault. When I was young, Beth was the person I most wanted to be like. Universally beloved, sweet, kind and mild tempered. Self-sacrificing to the end. I guess that’s why it hurts so much when she dies. Who can be that good all the time? Not me! I really hoped though that a little tiny bit of me was Beth-worthy, and I valued her willingness to extend herself for the people she loves.
Of course, everyone wants to be Jo! She’s fabulous! Creative, bold, interesting, and intelligent. None of the March girls are dummies that’s for sure, but Jo has a way of leaving them all in the dust! She does have an impetuousness that doesn’t do her any favors and her temper is a failing that causes her no end of grief, however, it would be hard to find a more generous spirit. Ms. Alcott created a character of uncommon quality in Jo. That’s why girls will be reading about her and her sisters for generations to come.
While I have a little of each sister, I think Meg is the one I’ve always felt the most in sync with. Firstborn child syndrome maybe? Meg is the one with her head on straight. She always does the right thing (or at least tries to do whatever she thinks the right thing should be). Always looking out for the family and trying her best to be a good example for her siblings. She is also, unfortunately, prone to self-righteousness. A trait I wish I didn’t share with her. Hard to feel wrong, when you know you’re always right! 😉 I get the feeling that although she doesn’t throw herself about with grief over her failings as Jo does, she is probably very hard on herself. How can you not be when you have to be perfect every second of every day? In the end, she realizes that trying to be perfect is not helping. Loving her family, and working hard for them, and not for some idealized perception of how life “should” be is not what it’s all about. Not an easy lesson to learn but a good one.
If you can’t tell, I think I drank the March kool-aid and took the Pilgrim’s Progress far too much to heart. I was excited to see this prompt for the meme because I really have thought long and hard over the years about what these girls mean to me. I don’t really have an answer for which is my favorite, or which I identify with or whose story ended most satisfactorily. Partially because: they are all my favorite, I identify with all of them, and it is the changes they made inside themselves that matter most to me in this story. Can’t wait to see what everyone else thinks!