At the beginning of the novel, Jo and her sisters are almost literally waiting for things to happen. They go through their everyday routines, working, keeping house, and trying to be good people. Each girl also cherishes certain ambitions – Jo wants to do something amazing, but she's not sure what. We don't know exactly how this will work out, but we're sure that it's going to be exciting!
This disconnection between Jo's platonic friendship for Laurie and his romantic interest in her has been building almost since they met. Jo sees Laurie as a pal, someone to hang around with who won't force her to be proper and ladylike. But Laurie sees Jo, despite all her peculiarities, as the kind of wife he'd like to have by his side.
It seems heartless to think of Beth's death as a "complication" rather than the center of the plot, but that's really what it is. After all, Beth is sickly from the beginning, and, as she herself points out, she never really has dreams or plans for the future. It's as though she knows that she's not meant to live long. Dealing with the loss of Beth helps turn Jo from a happy-go-lucky girl into a sweet and serious woman, but it's still not the most important development in her life – or in the plot of the book!
OK, so this isn't your typical climax where the hero battles the monster with a sword. Still, everything seems to be changing – Laurie leaves, Beth dies, Amy is away, and nothing is ever going to be the same.
For a while Jo exists in a strange limbo; she stops writing for money and becomes more introspective, writing truthfully from the heart. Instead of living in New York and moving in fast-paced intellectual circles, she stays at home, taking care of her parents in the wake of Beth's death. It seems like she might just stay there forever, a spinster in a small town with a rich inner life. After all, that's pretty much what Louisa May Alcott did as an adult.
Luckily, Jo figures out what you may have guessed already – she's in love with Mr. Bhaer, and she does want to get married! After a series of comical misunderstandings and miscommunications, they finally get engaged.
A marriage, an inheritance, moving out of your parent's house, and starting your own business? Yes, this is definitely the conclusion.