March 6 is the death anniversary of the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott. It is first in a series of books, the last of which is Jo’s Boys. Alcott portrays herself as Jo in Little Women.

March 6 is the death anniversary of popular children’s writer Louisa May Alcott. She was born on November 29, 1832, in Gerrmantown, which is now a part of Philadephia, Pennsylvania, U.S. When her family had financial difficulties, Lousia May did odd jobs to support her family.

The book is partially based on Alcott’s childhood. In fact, the Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts, where the Alcott family stayed is said to be a visual revisit to the 19th century setting of the novel. Little Women is first in the series of books, last of which is Jo’s Boys. Jo, one of the characters in Little Women, is modelled after herself. But unlike Jo who gets married, Alcott never did.

Sisters together

Though Alcott published several of her writings, it was Little Women that was the defining moment in her career. Today, it is one of the most widely read children’s novels.

Little Women is a tale of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth. They are awaiting the return of their father who is away in the event of war. The girls have distinct personalities and it is interesting to see how they cope with situations. Meg, the eldest is 16 and has taken on some of the responsibilities of the family. Jo is boisterous and has a quick temper. Amy is a bit demanding and sometimes vain. Beth is quiet and never loses her temper.

This is not a well off family but they are content, close-knit and aloving family. They are generous too, giving their Christmas breakfast to the Hummels, a poor family consisting of a widow and her six children.

The girls make friends with Theodore Laurence (Laurie) their neighbour. He lives with his grandfather James Laurence. Laurie is lonely, and befriends the girls and spends a good deal of time with them. His tutor, James Brooke, falls in love with Meg as is seen later in the story.

Testing times lie ahead. Mr. March takes ill and his wife is sent for. While Mrs. March is away, the girls do their bit to support the situation of the family. This is something that bears close resemblance to the author’s own life as she had to work as an occasional teacher, seamstress, governess, domestic help and writer. Jo, to everyone’s surprise and to her own dismay, has her long hair chopped off, while Amy hesitantly agrees to read to Aunt March in place of Jo. 

In the midst of all this misery, Beth catches viral fever and is very ill and Mrs. March has to return. Mr. March recovers and is back home.

In the meantime, Laurie decides to speed up things and mischievously writes a letter to Meg and signs it James Brooke. His intention is to take this relationship forward. Brooke confesses his love but Meg is confused and says it is too early to decide.

Little Women revolves around the lives of the four sisters — their day to day interactions. Their characters are defined by the nature of the relationship they have with people around them, be it their cheerful neighbour Laurie or their relative, Aunt March who is a trying woman.

Sacrifice is one of the underlying themes of the novel and defines the spirit of the protagonists. The novel can be enjoyed and cherished for the love that is apparent between the members of the March family and how a giving nature keeps relationships alive and going.

"Money is a needful and precious thing,--and, when well used, a noble thing,--but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. I'd rather see you poor men's wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace." — Louisa May Alcott, Little Women