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Little Women

Little Women

by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women Chapter 19 Summary

Amy's Will

  • While her sisters are nursing Beth, Amy is suffering under the strict rules of Aunt March's house. Aunt March does love Amy, but she doesn't really show it. She tries to improve Amy's character by making her follow a harsh routine, including lots of housework, lessons, reading aloud to Aunt March, and listening to long lectures.
  • Amy is sustained by her friendship with Laurie, who comes to visit her regularly, and the kindness of Aunt March's maid Esther.
  • Even Aunt March's pets irritate Amy – the parrot pulls her hair and calls her names, and the little dog barks at her.
  • Esther, the maid, is Amy's only friend in the house. Her real name is Estelle, and she is a French Catholic – Aunt March, like many nineteenth-century English and American employers, forces her foreign servants to adopt English names.
  • Esther tells Amy stories about her homeland and shows Amy the jewelry and other treasures that Aunt March has gathered over the years.
  • One day, Esther asks Amy which piece of Aunt March's jewelry she would choose, if she could have one. Amy chooses a string of gold and ebony beads, and Esther explains that it is actually a rosary – used by Catholics for saying prayers.
  • Esther and Amy talk about the comfort of prayer. Esther offers to set up a little chapel for Amy in a spare room of Aunt March's mansion.
  • Amy asks Esther who will get Aunt March's jewelry when she dies. Esther says that, in her will, Aunt March has left the jewelry to Amy and her sisters.
  • Amy wishes she could have some of Aunt March's jewelry now. Esther shows her a turquoise ring and tells her that Aunt March is planning to give it to her when she goes back home as a reward for her good behavior.
  • Amy tries harder to be good and obedient to Aunt March in order to earn the turquoise ring.
  • Esther sets up a little chapel for Amy, using a portrait of Mary with the baby Jesus that was stored away in the house. Amy adds a vase of flowers, her copy of the New Testament, her hymnbook, and a rosary that Esther gave her. She doesn't use the rosary because she's Protestant, but she hangs it in the room.
  • Amy tries to use her little chapel and her prayers to replace her mother's influence and advice. She becomes more religious and draws closer to God, even though she's just a little girl.
  • Amy starts thinking about what will happen if she gets scarlet fever and dies. With Esther's help, she writes a will of her own.
  • One day, as Amy is playing dress-up with some of Aunt March's clothes, Laurie comes in to see her. Amy puts the clothes away and tells Laurie about the will. She asks him to sign it as a witness.
  • Laurie, doing his best not to laugh at Amy, reads her will. She has left some of her possessions to her father, mother, sisters, Laurie, Mr. Laurence, Hannah, and her friend Kitty Bryant.
  • Laurie asks Amy what made her write the will, and tells her that Beth has given her possessions away already.
  • As Laurie signs Amy's will as a witness, she adds an additional bequest – that her curls should be cut off and one given to each of her family and friends.
  • Amy asks Laurie if Beth is really in danger of dying. Laurie says that she is and tries to comfort Amy.
  • After Laurie leaves, Amy goes to her chapel and prays for Beth.

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