How we cite our quotes:
Jo's ambition was to do something very splendid. What it was, she had no idea as yet, but left it for time to tell her, and meanwhile, found her greatest affliction in the fact that she couldn't read, run, and ride as much as she liked. A quick temper, sharp tongue, and restless spirit were always getting her into scrapes, and her life was a series of ups and downs, which were both comic and pathetic. (4.29)
Later in her life, Jo will fixate on writing as her passion, but as a child she doesn't care what she does as long as it's totally awesome.
"My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world, marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting." (9.142)
Marmee tries to be clear with her girls: she has ambitious hopes for them, but her ambitions aren't the same as those of other mamas who are trying to find rich husbands and fancy homes for their daughters. Her ambitions as a mother are moral and emotional, rather than worldly.
"We're an ambitious set, aren't we? Every one of us, but Beth, wants to be rich and famous, and gorgeous in every respect. I do wonder if any of us will ever get our wishes," said Laurie, chewing grass like a meditative calf. (13.57)
The ambitions and desires that the March girls and Laurie describe actually seem to be pulling them apart from one another. As they pursue their various desires, they will leave home, some of them traveling as far as Europe, others finding homes and relationships of their own. Intriguingly, however, Alcott suggests that Beth's lack of ambition and love for home is more praiseworthy than everyone else's restlessness.