From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Little Women

Little Women


by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women Chapter 7 Summary

READ THE BOOK: Chapter 7

Amy's Valley of Humiliation

  • The March girls are sitting at home together when Laurie rides by on horseback. Amy admires his horsemanship, and also his wealth. She says that she desperately needs money.
  • Meg and Jo laugh at Amy and ask why she needs money so badly. Amy explains that it is fashionable at school for girls to buy pickled limes and share them with each other. (Historical Tidbit: Apparently pickled limes are an awesome treat for nineteenth-century schoolgirls. And yes, that's not just a name – they're actually limes that have been pickled in brine. We're not sure we believe they're any good either, but just suspend your disbelief, or this chapter won't make any sense.)
  • Amy has had a lot of pickled limes from other girls, but she can't return the favor, and the other girls have said that she can't have any more until she takes her turn providing them.
  • Meg takes pity on Amy and gives her a quarter – the family's "rag money" for the month. (This is basically like the money you get for cashing in recycling; it's what the family gets for selling scraps of cloth from worn-out clothes and household linens.)
  • The next day, Amy comes to school with a brown paper bag of 24 pickled limes. (They cost a penny each; she already ate one on her way there!) She shows them off before lessons start and all the girls want to be her friend. But one girl, Jenny Snow, was rude to Amy before, and Amy tells her she's not going to get one.
  • The class begins. An important person visits the school and compliments Amy's hand-drawn maps. This sends Jenny Snow over the edge, and she tattles on Amy for having limes in her desk.
  • Unfortunately, Amy's teacher, Mr. Davis, hates pickled limes and has banned them at school. He calls Amy up front, humiliates her, and makes her throw the limes out of the window. He strikes her across the hand several times with a yardstick and then makes her stand at the front of the room until recess.
  • When recess finally comes, Amy takes her things and goes straight home. Her sisters, along with their servant Hannah, are outraged at the way she has been treated. Her mother is angry but doesn't say much.
  • Just before the school day ends, Jo takes a note to Mr. Davis. In the note, Mrs. March informs Mr. Davis that Amy is being withdrawn from the school.
  • Mrs. March tells Amy that she is going to be home-schooled from now on. Amy feels vindicated, but then her mother reminds her that it was still wrong for her to break the rules and take limes to school. Mrs. March tells Amy that she needs to be less selfish and conceited.
  • Laurie, who is playing a board game with Jo in the background, uses this as an opportunity to pay a compliment to shy Beth. As a reward, Jo lets him win the game.
  • When Laurie leaves, Amy asks her mother if he is accomplished. Her mother says that he is, and that he's liked because he has a lot of accomplishments, but he is polite and doesn't show off. Amy takes this lesson to heart.

READ THE BOOK: Chapter 7

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...