by Louisa May Alcott
Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?
Little Women lives up to every stereotype of a novel's ending: all the girls are married, except Beth, who is dead. Jo has paired off with Mr. Bhaer, Amy with Laurie, and Meg with John Brooke. The Bhaers, Laurences, and Brookes have gone on to establish homes of their own, and each of the surviving sisters has her own children now. The children are given names from the previous generations – Margaret's twins are named for her and for their father ("Daisy" is a nickname for Margaret and "Demi" is short for "Demijohn," after his father John), Amy's daughter is named Beth after the sister who died, and Jo has named her sons Teddy, after her best friend, and Rob, after her father. As each March girl becomes more and more like her "Marmee," the new generation is being primed to repeat the story of the old one.
However, to complement this cycle, the novel ends with a birthday party for Marmee. All of the different families gather together for a picnic, along with the boys from Jo's boarding school, and for this occasion there seems to be one extended family, instead of a series of satellite families splintering off from the original. The picnic reinforces Mrs. March's matriarchal role and the novel's suggestion that female influence has a strong moral role to play, not only within the family, but also within society as a whole.