How we cite our quotes:
"As friends you are very happy, and your frequent quarrels soon blow over, but I fear you would both rebel if you were mated for life. You are too much alike and too fond of freedom, not to mention hot tempers and strong wills, to get on happily together, in a relation which needs infinite patience and forbearance, as well as love." (32.91)
As Marmee's critique suggests, Jo and Laurie make good friends, but they would make a terrible married couple. What do you think – should you look for the same qualities in a spouse that you do in a friend?
"I can't say 'yes' truly, so I won't say it at all." (35.48)
Many of Louisa May Alcott's nineteenth-century fans – and, let's be honest, lots of fans from later centuries, too! – were disappointed that Jo doesn't marry Laurie. After all, the first half of the book leads the reader to believe that they're a natural couple. But part of what Alcott tries to show us is that they're not suited. Even if they were, Jo just doesn't feel that way about him. Don't get us wrong, he's a perfectly nice guy and everything, but she simply doesn't love him in a romantic way. You can't make yourself love somebody, and it's best not to pretend.
"I only mean to say that I have a feeling that it never was intended I should live long. I'm not like the rest of you. I never made any plans about what I'd do when I grew up. I never thought of being married, as you all did. I couldn't seem to imagine myself anything but stupid little Beth, trotting about at home, of no use anywhere but there." (36.24)
Beth's early death is strangely connected to the fact that she was never able to envision herself as a wife. For nineteenth-century women, marriage and adulthood are practically the same thing!