Friday, December 20, 2013

Little Men

Little Men  by Louisa May Alcott
(downloaded as free or very inexpensive nook book, 25 Classic Novels).

I am not a lover of Little Women.  I should love it, I know. It should be one of those books that I treasure throughout my life and find time to reread regularly.  I have books like that, The Secret Garden, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre,  but not Little Women.  What can be my problem with it?  It just never worked for me. I should have been one of those girls who wishes she were Jo March.  I really should have.  I share her passions, I've always admired a strong and independent woman.  Somehow, I never really liked Jo.   I also found Alcott to be way way way too preachy.  There are plenty of books that are strongly moralizing and have devoutly Christian sensibilities, but don't make me feel like the author is thumping her bible, repeatedly over my head.  

Despite all of that, I really did like Little Men.  I love that Alcott, for the most part, believes and spreads the message of true feminism.  I've never believed that it was all bra burning and man hating and straying as far from possible from our feminine roots.  Feminism means that every woman can live the life that is right for her, whatever that means to her and for her.  Alcott espouses that in her books and that carries a lot of weight with me.  The bonus was that there is not one reference to The Pilgrim's Progress in it.  

In Little Men the whole family is together. Mr. and Mrs. March are alive and well and a part of their children and grandchildren's lives.  Amy is married to Laurie and they have a daughter, Bess.  Meg is married to John and they have three children, Daisy and John (Demi) the twins and Josie.  Jo and Professor Bhaer are raising their two children, Rob and Ted as well as Bhaer's nephews and a selection of boys they are educating and bringing up in their home.  

I loved the idea that this kind couple and their extended family did so much for these boys, encouraging them to follow their dreams, find their strengths and passions and to learn love and respect.  I think the lessons and the ideas that Alcott shared here were  accomplished in a much more palatable way. The adults were kind and invested in the boys' lives and futures. I found Jo to be more a woman to inspire than I did in Little Women. Here, she is devoting her life to making the world a better place, one beloved child at a time.  

A loving home, shared by people who love, respect and accept one another just as they are, whether blood relative, stray boys with no place to go, household staff, or privileged boys with parents seeking a good educational start for their children.  In our world today, we could use a lot of Plumfields.  This is an idea whose time has come again, or maybe we're in the state we're in because such a place doesn't exist and was always needed.


Judy Krueger said...

Hey, you made me want to read Little Men again. Did you ever read the biography of Louisa: Louisa May Alcott, the Woman Behind Little Women by Helen Reisen? Turns out she didn't like Little Women either. She wrote it for the money so she could take care of her family, especially her mom.

JoanneMarie Faust said...

I haven't read the biography, but now I think I'd like to. I guess I get to feel a little vindicated that the author shares my dislike of the book. Most readers don't.