Little Women (was Re: [DWJ] Re: The Last Battle (was witches in fiction, and exploiting) )

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Wed Jun 21 20:55:31 EDT 2006

On Wed, 21 Jun 2006 18:24:14 EDT, HSchinske at wrote:

>In a message dated 6/21/2006 3:02:22 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,  
>Melissa Proffitt writes:
>It seems  so horribly contrived next to everything else about the book.   If
>Alcott could live a life of fulfilled singlehood, why couldn't Jo?   And
>doesn't that sort of undermine Alcott's successes as a novelist?   Bah
>and Helen replies:
>I thought I'd posted about this before, but it must have been on Girlsown:  
>here's a description of my take on the matter, originally posted on Victoria  
>(sorry to be boring and recycle stuff):
>I've always been extremely attached to Professor Bhaer, and thought  that
>Laurie and Jo would have fought cats'n'dogs. I've seen this issue  debated on
>several lists over the years (Child_Lit and Girlsown among them),  and there
>are always some Bhaer fans. Some of us are big Amy fans, too -- in  my own
>case, influenced heavily by May being my favorite Alcott. I'm fairly  sure
>that there has always been a minority (at least) in favor of Jo's  not
>marrying Laurie.

I'm absolutely not in favor of Jo marrying Laurie, for the record.  I think
they would have made each other miserable.  What bothers me is that, having
used so much of her family's real history as the basis for the story, she
then turns to invention--and it's fairly easy to tell the difference.  I
don't know if I want to insist on the book(s) being entirely
autobiographical; I prefer to treat it as fiction with strong ties to
reality.  But the purely fictional elements simply don't seem to match up
with the rest of the story.  Even if you don't read Professor Bhaer as
wish-fulfillment for Alcott, to me it still reads like a fairly conventional
romantic novel wrap-up, happy endings for the all the survivors.

My own suspicion is that this is less Alcott than market pressure, but I
don't know enough about her literary history to insist on this
interpretation.  I wonder how acceptable a spinster ending would have been
to her readership.

Melissa Proffitt

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