How we cite our quotes:
"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
"It's so dreadful to be poor!" sighed Meg, looking down at her old dress.
"I don't think it's fair for some girls to have plenty of pretty things, and other girls to have nothing at all," added little Amy, with an injured sniff.
"We've got Father and Mother and each other," said Beth contentedly from her corner. (1.1-4)
The first thing we learn about the March girls is that they are poor – they can't afford presents at Christmas, their clothes are old, and they envy the other girls that they know. Only Beth seems to realize that they are rich in another, more intangible way.
A poor, bare, miserable room it was, with broken windows, no fire, ragged bedclothes, a sick mother, wailing baby, and a group of pale, hungry children cuddled under one old quilt, trying to keep warm. (2.30)
Just when you thought the March girls were poor and pathetic, we meet the Hummel children. This is true poverty: starvation, cold, and misery. By contrast, the Marches are snug, happy, and comfortable.
"I don't believe fine young ladies enjoy themselves a bit more than we do, in spite of our burned hair, old gowns, one glove apiece, and tight slippers that sprain our ankles when we are silly enough to wear them." (3.124)
Early in life, Jo and Meg, along with their sisters, begin to realize that possessions can't make you happy, even when they're really nice.