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Little Women

Little Women


by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women Chapter 41 Summary

READ THE BOOK: Chapter 41

Learning to Forget

  • Laurie takes the lecture that Amy gave him to heart. He goes back to his grandfather and thinks about how he could do something useful with his life.
  • Laurie begins to realize that his love for Jo is cooling. He wants her to respect him, but isn't desperate for her love anymore.
  • At first, Laurie turns to composing music. He tries to write a really sad and pathetic song about Jo, but somehow he's always humming cheerful music instead.
  • Next Laurie tries to write an opera. He's trying to make Jo into the heroine, but somehow he finds himself writing about a sweeter, more delicate, more blonde sort of woman. A woman like...Amy, perhaps?
  • Laurie goes around in a fog for a while, writing about this blonde heroine and wondering what it is that seems to be simmering inside him. Is it genius? Well, maybe.
  • One day, Laurie comes home from seeing a Mozart opera and realizes that his own operatic compositions are nothing in comparison. He decides to stop trying to compose music and turn his attention to something else.
  • Laurie wishes that he weren't too rich to need a job. He realizes that he needs to stay busy so that he doesn't become idle or immoral. We're not all that sympathetic: if only we had the same problem of too much money and leisure time!
  • The narrator speculates about Laurie's behavior. Most novelists might have him go through a period of dissipation, where he spends too much money and gambles and sleeps around. But, the narrator tells us, his promises to his grandfather and the influence of the March girls keeps him from doing anything immoral.
  • Laurie's romantic love for Jo finally disappears entirely. At first he resists this change, but then he admits to himself that he just feels a brotherly love for her now.
  • Laurie compares his changing affections to Mozart's life. Mozart fell in love with a woman who didn't want to marry him, so he married her sister instead and was perfectly happy. This gives Laurie an idea.
  • Before giving up, Laurie writes one more letter to Jo asking if she'll relent and marry him. She writes back telling him "no" once again – and also telling him that Beth is getting worse. Jo asks Laurie to comfort Amy for the coming loss of her sister.
  • Laurie writes to Amy and they begin corresponding regularly – but Laurie won't go and visit her until she asks him.
  • Meanwhile, Fred Vaughn has come back and asked Amy to marry him – and she has refused.
  • Amy is starting to care a lot about Laurie's good opinion of her. She writes him letters twice a week and tells him about everything going on in her life. She tells him that she loves him like a brother, but...you get the idea.
  • Amy goes around making sketches of knights and young men. The sketches are faceless, since that's fashionable at the moment – and also convenient for concealing who she's really thinking about.
  • In one of her letters, Amy tells Laurie that Fred has gone to Egypt. Laurie understands that this means Amy has refused his proposal of marriage.
  • One day, the news arrives that Beth has died. It's too late for Amy to do anything about it or to come home for the funeral, so her family tells her to stay in Europe.
  • When Laurie gets the news of Beth's death, he rushes from Paris to Vevey, where the Carrols are living, in order to comfort Amy.
  • Amy, sitting alone in a garden and mourning for Beth, is overjoyed to see Laurie. She feels like he can sympathize with her loss more than her aunt, uncle, and cousin, and she's also just glad to have him around!
  • As soon as Amy and Laurie see each other, they know they're in love. But they still have to be prim and proper about everything.
  • As they sit down on a bench in the garden and begin to talk, Laurie sees some of Amy's sketches and figures out how she is feeling.
  • Laurie begins taking care of Amy, being kind and also a bit commanding. He makes her walk in the garden to stay warm in the cold wind, and they talk about Beth.
  • When Amy and Laurie come back, Aunt Carrol realizes that Amy is in love with Laurie instead of Fred. She doesn't talk to Amy about it – just starts spending more time with her daughter Flo and tactfully leaving Amy and Laurie alone together.
  • Amy and Laurie are very active, going for walks, rowing on the river, and spending a lot of time together. The weather is great, the place is beautiful, and the whole world is basically nudging them and winking.
  • Laurie decides that his second romance is going to be more calm and decorous than the first. He doesn't make a scene or declare his love for Amy; he just spends time with her and is sweet to her.
  • One afternoon, Laurie and Amy are rowing a boat together on the lake. Amy says they row well together, and Laurie asks if she'll "row" with him all their lives. And, of course, she says yes.
  • If you're wondering, yes, that means they're engaged now!

READ THE BOOK: Chapter 41

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