book review

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Chapter Summary)

Chapter 1:

Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth spend their Christmas without their father around, which means a lonely Christmas for these girls as their father is away from home, serving and fighting at the army. Each girl shares what they wanted to get for themselves for Christmas, as well as the hard times they have to go through just to earn money.

Meg was the eldest of the four children and acts as a mother to her siblings. Jo was more of a tomboy, who despises having to wear long gowns and look as prim as Miss March. Beth was described to be timid and Amy, the youngest, is demure and lady-like.

These four girls agreed on getting something special for their mother instead for themselves. Jo suggested doing a play as well, which she thinks would be a wonderful surprise.

Unknown words in this chapter:
1) slang: words, phrases or meanings that are new, flashy and popular, usually only for a short time. (page 4)

2) reproving: showing disapproval of; finding fault with (page 4)

3) prim: precise; neat, proper or formal in a stiff way (page 5)

4) frolics: merry pranks or games (page 7)

5) asunder: in pieces; into separate parts (page 7)

6) arsenic: a violent, tasteless poison that is a compound of this element (page 7)

7) simper: to smile in a silly, affected way (page 8)

8) chaplain: a clergyman or layman authorized to lead religious services in public assembly (page 8)

Chapter 2:

The March girls woke up to find their Christmas stockings or pillows filled with books given by their mother. Jo, Beth, Amy and Meg help in preparing breakfast while their mother was out helping the poor and needy family.

That night, the four girls held a play called “Operatic Tragedy” which stars Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth themselves as the main cast or characters, which earned an applause from the audience.

Unknown words in this chapter:
1) creeter: a weird or strange person (page 12)

2) vittles: food or provisions (page 12)

3) gruel: a nearly liquid food made by boiling oatmeal or other cereal in water or milk (page 14)

4) baize: a thick, coarse woolen or cotton cloth resembling felt; used especially for curtains, table covers and as a lining (page 15)

5) philter: a drug or magic potion which is supposed to make a person fall in love (page 16)

6) warble: a melodious song with trills and quavers (page 17)

Chapter 3:

Meg receives an invitation from Mrs. Gardiner, asking Meg and her sisters to be at the little dance on New Year’s Eve, to which their mom gave her consent. Jo decided to go without a fancy dress as she cares less about the dance. Meg had to remind Jo to behave in a lady-like manner when at the party.

The girls keep themselves busy preparing for the New Year’s Eve party , with Jo trying to curl Meg and Beth’s hair, but only ends up burning Meg’s hair, much to her horror.

During the dance, Jo just hides herself behind the curtains, unaware that someone was also there –Laurence boy. Jo ended up chatting with Laurence instead of dancing as she disliked the thought of being in crowds and stepping on other people’s toes. The two seem to enjoy each other’s company until such time Meg, who is in pain, searches for Jo.

Unknown words in this chapter:
1) garret: a space in a house just below a sloping roof (page 20)

2) russet(s): a kind of winter apple with a rough , brownish skin

3) poplin: a ripped fabric, made of silk and wool, cotton and wool, rayon or cotton and used for making dresses, pants, suits, coats and other clothing, curtains and tents (page 20)

4) frizzle: to form the hair in small, crisp curls (page 22)

5) petulantly: insolently or irritably (page 22)

6) snood: a net or bag worn over a woman’s hair (page 22)

7) thrash: to beat as punishment ; flog (page 24)

8) blunderbuss: a person who blunders, especially habitually (page 26)

9) bonbons: pieces of candy that’s usually soft and often has a fancy shape (page 28)

10) redowa: a Bohemian dance popular in the 1800s (page 28)

11) arsenic: a healing liquid applied to bruises and sprains, prepared from the dried flowers, leaves or roots of the arsenic plant (page 29)

Chapter 4:

Meg and Jo complained the next morning about having to go back to work after their holiday break. However, Jo reminded Meg and herself as well to be cheerful in working instead of grumbling, which Meg ignores and continues to complain about not being able to make herself pretty and having to put up with spoilt children.  Apart from Meg and Jo, Beth and Amy have their own burdens as well, with Beth having a hard headache and Amy worrying about not learning her lessons in school and missing her rubbers.

Along their way to work, Jo and Meg bickered about using dreadful expressions such as rascal and wretch, to which Meg scolds her sister not to say such words. They part ways as they are nearing their workplace, with Meg working for the children as a governess and Jo as a caregiver to Aunt March, who is a childless old lady. Beth was just like any other girls who would shy away from other people and sit in a corner of the room, living cheerfully for other people whilst Amy was the most artistic among the four children and a spoilt child as well.

That evening, each girl told or shared stories of how their day went. Jo told of the queer time she had with Aunt March, Meg shared about having heard one of the children report what her brother did which caused disgrace to the family, Amy wailed on how terrible Mr. Davis was to his students and Beth on a good deed that Mr. Laurence had shown to the woman who was asking for fish.

Unknown words in this chapter:
1) dismally: miserably or gloomily (page 29)

2) trudge: to walk heavily, wearily or with effort (page 29)

3) burr: a washer placed on the small end of a rivet before the end is swaged down. (page 30)

4) implored: begged earnestly for (page 30)

5) governess: a woman who teaches or trains children in their homes (page 31)

6) chronic: having suffered long from an illness or other afflictions (page 33)

7) lark: a small, songbird of Europe, Asia, America and north Africa, with brown feathers and long, hind claws (page 33)

8) harum-scarum: too hasty; reckless (page 34)

9) droning: making a deep , continuous humming sound (page 34)

10) frivolous: lacking in seriousness or sense (page 35)

11) carnelian: a red or reddish brown variety of chalcedony; used in jewelry (page 35)

12) morsel: something to be enjoyed, disposed of or endured (page 38)

Chapter 5:

Jo had taken a liking to Laurence boy ever since she met him at the New Year’s Eve party and decided to get to know more about him. She had also pitied him as he was always locked up in his room by his grandpa, without anyone to play with.

So, Jo decided to visit Laurie at their house to keep him company, bringing along with her Beth’s three kittens and a covered dish which had the blanc-mange Meg had made. As the two enjoy each other’s company, Jo and Laurie share stories, to which Laurie opens up that he envies Jo and her sisters as he grew up without a mother. Jo invites Laurie to come over to their house and have fun with them so that he won’t have to feel so lonely. After a while, Jo meets Mr. Laurence, Laurie’s grandpa, who doesn’t seem to be bad as she thought he is.

Unknown words in this chapter:
1) betokening: being a sign or token of ; indicating (page 39)

2) wistfully: longingly or yearningly (page 39)

3) pate: the top of the head (page 40)

4) blanc-mange: a sweet dessert made of milk boiled and thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or the like, flavored and cooled in a mold (page 40)

5) vivacity: liveliness; gaiety (page 44)

6) conservatory: a school for instruction in music (page 44)

7) heliotrope: any one of a group of herbs or shrubs with the clusters of small, sweet-smelling , purple or white flowers (page 46)



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