© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Little Women

Little Women

by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women Chapter 8 Summary

Jo Meets Apollyon

  • Meg and Jo are getting dressed in their best clothes, ready to go out, when Amy comes in and wants to know where they're going.
  • Jo doesn't want to tell Amy, but after an hour of wheedling Meg admits that Laurie is taking them out to the theater to see The Seven Castles. Amy begs to come, but her older sisters tell her that she hasn't been invited and they don't have a ticket for her anyway.
  • Meg tries to comfort Amy, telling her that she'll be able to see the play next week with Hannah and Beth. That's not good enough for Amy, who wants to go tonight, with them and Laurie.
  • Meg wants to relent and bring Amy; she has a little money she could use to buy her own ticket. Jo refuses, saying that Amy's being rude because she wasn't invited, and that if she goes Laurie will end up giving her his seat and they won't be able to hang out with him.
  • Amy says that Jo is going to be sorry for this. Jo just laughs at her.
  • The play is wonderful, but Jo can't enjoy it because everything reminds her of Amy and makes her feel bad for neglecting her sister.
  • When they get home, Amy is reading quietly and doesn't say anything. Beth asks them about the play and they describe it for her.
  • Before she goes to bed, Jo checks her drawer – the last time she made Amy angry, Amy threw all her things on the floor. But it's fine, so she just goes to sleep.
  • The next day, Jo discovers that the manuscript of her book is missing. She asks if any of her sisters know where it is. Amy blushes, and Jo pounces on her – she's sure Amy has it.
  • Finally, Amy admits that she burned Jo's manuscript to punish her for being mean the day before. Jo is enraged and attacks Amy.
  • Meg separates Jo and Amy. Jo runs upstairs to the attic and cries.
  • When Mrs. March comes home, she makes Amy realize what a terrible thing she has done – Jo worked on the book of stories for several years, and she had just recopied them and destroyed the old drafts. There's no way that she can get back what Amy has destroyed.
  • Amy apologizes to Jo. Jo refuses to accept her apology.
  • That evening, everyone tries to behave as though things are normal, but Jo refuses to acknowledge Amy at all. Mrs. March tries to encourage Jo to forgive her sister, but she won't.
  • The next morning, Jo has a terrible day; everything seems to go wrong. When she gets home from working at Aunt March's, she asks Laurie to go ice skating.
  • Amy hears Jo putting on her skates and gets even angrier – Jo promised to take her skating the next time she went. She puts on her own skates and hurries after her sister.
  • Jo and Laurie begin skating. They're skating on the frozen river near their houses, which is somewhat dangerous.
  • Laurie checks the ice and tells Jo to keep close to the shore, since the ice isn't thick enough in the middle to hold their weight. Amy, a little ways behind them, doesn't hear this caution.
  • Jo hears Amy behind them, trying to catch up, but ignores her and goes on ahead.
  • Laurie skates off ahead. Jo turns around just in time to see Amy fall through the ice.
  • Jo calls to Laurie, who hurries back. They get a rail and use it to help Amy climb out of the hole in the ice. Amy is soaked and ice-cold.
  • Laurie and Jo take off most of their outer garments and bundle Amy up in them. They quickly walk her home.
  • Mrs. March changes Amy's clothes and bundles her up in blankets on the sofa. She says that Amy's going to be fine.
  • Once Amy falls asleep, Mrs. March starts to bandage Jo's hands which were cut by the rail. Jo, who feels terrible, asks her mother if Amy is really going to be OK. Mrs. March assures her that Amy will be fine.
  • Jo cries and says that it would have been her fault if Amy had died. She tells her mother that she hates being so hot-tempered and doesn't know what to do about it.
  • Mrs. March reveals to Jo that she also has a really bad temper. Jo is intrigued and asks how her mother learned to control it. Mrs. March says that she had her husband's help, and was also motivated by having children and wanting to be a good influence for them.
  • Jo asks her mother to help her learn to control her own temper, and Mrs. March promises that she will.
  • Jo remembers that she used to see her father quietly put his finger to his lips sometimes, and asks her mother if this was their signal, reminding Mrs. March to stay calm. Mrs. March says it was.
  • Mrs. March tears up, and Jo asks what's wrong. Mrs. March says that talking about her husband, Jo's father, made her miss him even more.
  • Jo tells her mother that she's amazed at her willingness to let her husband go to war. Mrs. March says that it wasn't easy, but she's trying to do her duty for her country and trust in God. Jo and Mrs. March share a tender hug.
  • Amy wakes up, and she and Jo hug and forgive one another.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement
Noodle's College Search
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement