by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women Poverty Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Margaret found a place as nursery governess and felt rich with her small salary. As she said, she was 'fond of luxury,' and her chief trouble was poverty. She found it harder to bear than the others because she could remember a time when home was beautiful, life full of ease and pleasure, and want of any kind unknown. She tried not to be envious or discontented, but it was very natural that the young girl should long for pretty things, gay friends, accomplishments, and a happy life. At the Kings' she daily saw all she wanted, for the children's older sisters were just out, and Meg caught frequent glimpses of dainty ball dresses and bouquets, heard lively gossip about theaters, concerts, sleighing parties, and merrymakings of all kinds, and saw money lavished on trifles which would have been so precious to her. Poor Meg seldom complained, but a sense of injustice made her feel bitter toward everyone sometimes, for she had not yet learned to know how rich she was in the blessings which alone can make life happy. (4.24)
The reason Meg has more trouble adjusting to poverty is that she has something to contrast it with. Both her childhood memories of a time that her family had more money and her present experience as a governess remind her just how easy life can be if you've got the cash to make it that way. Her sisters don't have the same experience, but Meg knows exactly what she's missing.
"We can't give up our girls for a dozen fortunes. Rich or poor, we will keep together and be happy in one another." (4.26)
Mr. and Mrs. March are described in the novel as "unworldly" – they don't have plans or schemes for getting rich, or even for coming up in the world. They're more interested in their family than in their bank account...if they even have one.
"One discovered that money couldn't keep shame and sorrow out of rich people's houses, another that, though she was poor, she was a great deal happier, with her youth, health, and good spirits, than a certain fretful, feeble old lady who couldn't enjoy her comforts, a third that, disagreeable as it was to help get dinner, it was harder still to go begging for it and the fourth, that even carnelian rings were not so valuable as good behavior." (4.61)
Everywhere we turn, the March girls are learning Deep Moral Lessons about money! You know, that money can't buy happiness, that there are much worse fates than being poor, and all that sort of thing,