There are many different kinds of poverty in Little Women. Most obvious is financial poverty, lacking money and material goods. Financial poverty comes in many strains, and the novel reminds us that even families that seem to have very little might be better off than those who are truly indigent. More serious than financial poverty, however, is spiritual poverty. Wealthy families and individuals sometimes lack the most important things in life – love, happiness, family togetherness, and morality. In the end, spiritual and material wealth are brought together in a variety of ways to create the happiest possible situations, but financial poverty remains bearable when necessary.
Genteel poverty, relieved occasionally by the charity of wealthy relatives and friends, provides an opportunity for the March girls to demonstrate their virtuous ability to work hard.
The March family is only poor when compared to their wealthy, aristocratic friends; the scenes with the starving, suffering Hummel family show how snug and comfortable the Marches really are.