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Little Women

Little Women

by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women Chapter 16 Summary

Letters

  • In the morning, the girls' usual routine of reading their Bibles to start the day seems even more important and comforting than usual.
  • They eat breakfast very early. The girls try to be cheerful and strong for their mother, but they keep breaking down.
  • Mrs. March leaves with a few last words of encouragement for the girls. She tells them that Hannah will take care of them and Mr. Laurence will help and protect them, too. She reminds them to use everyday work as a source of comfort.
  • Mrs. March and Mr. Brooke leave in the carriage, and the girls, Hannah, Laurie, and Mr. Laurence all wave goodbye to them. Mrs. March is struck by how kind people are to her family, and Mr. Brooke laughs and says they can't help it.
  • After their mother is gone, the girls cry for a little bit. Then, Hannah insists that they drink some coffee and calm down.
  • Breakfast helps the girls feel calmer, and then Meg and Jo set out for their jobs as usual. Beth and Amy plan to do the housework under Hannah's direction.
  • Many letters are exchanged between Mrs. March in Washington and the family back home. The girls are pleased to learn that their father is doing better, although he is still in critical condition.
  • The rest of the chapter consists of a selection of the letters written while Mr. March is ill.
  • The first letter is from Meg to her mother. Meg reports on the good behavior and progress of each of her sisters, assures her mother that Hannah and Mr. Laurence are looking after them, and sends her love to her father.
  • The second letter is from Jo to her mother and sharply contrasts with Meg's letter. Jo describes Meg's attempts to be maternal and a fight that she had with Laurie. She encloses a poem about housework to amuse her father.
  • The third letter is from Beth, and it's short and sweet. Beth sends her father her love and also some pressed pansies, and assures her mother that she's doing all her duties at home.
  • The rest of the sheet with Beth's letter is covered with the fourth letter, which is from Amy. Amy's letter is full of misspellings and misused words, and she describes the little things that bother her, such as an obviously-mended dress and Laurie teasing her.
  • The next letter is from Hannah. Hannah's spelling and grammar are about as bad as Amy's, but she reports that Meg and Beth are fine housekeepers. Jo, Hannah says, is enthusiastic but always making funny mistakes, and Amy's doing OK.
  • The next letter is from Laurie. It's written as though it were a military situation report, and Laurie signs himself "Colonel Teddy."
  • The final letter is a short note from Mr. Laurence, saying that everything is going well and offering any help that Mr. March might need.

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