by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women Sacrifice Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Oh, Jo, can't you?"
"Teddy, dear, I wish I could!"
That was all, except a little pause. Then Laurie straightened himself up, said, "It's all right, never mind," and went away without another word. Ah, but it wasn't all right, and Jo did mind, for while the curly head lay on her arm a minute after her hard answer, she felt as if she had stabbed her dearest friend, and when he left her without a look behind him, she knew that the boy Laurie never would come again. (35.93-95)
Unfortunately, Jo can't choose between being Laurie's friend and being his wife. When she rejects his proposal of marriage, things change between them forever, and she sacrifices the relationship they did have on the altar of truth.
Beth could not reason upon or explain the faith that gave her courage and patience to give up life, and cheerfully wait for death. Like a confiding child, she asked no questions, but left everything to God and nature, Father and Mother of us all, feeling sure that they, and they only, could teach and strengthen heart and spirit for this life and the life to come. She did not rebuke Jo with saintly speeches, only loved her better for her passionate affection, and clung more closely to the dear human love, from which our Father never means us to be weaned, but through which He draws us closer to Himself. She could not say, "I'm glad to go," for life was very sweet for her. She could only sob out, "I try to be willing," while she held fast to Jo, as the first bitter wave of this great sorrow broke over them together. (36.19)
One of the greatest sacrifices Jo must make is letting go of Beth. She's able to withstand the loss because she thinks of it, not as losing Beth forever, but as letting her go to God.
She had often said she wanted to do something splendid, no matter how hard, and now she had her wish, for what could be more beautiful than to devote her life to Father and Mother, trying to make home as happy to them as they had to her? And if difficulties were necessary to increase the splendor of the effort, what could be harder for a restless, ambitious girl than to give up her own hopes, plans, and desires, and cheerfully live for others? (42.14)
If Little Women were a traditional novel of growth and development, Jo would go out into the world and make her way as a great writer, or become an actress, or make a fortune, or travel the world. Instead, her greatest challenge is to be a dutiful daughter and homemaker. In the wake of Beth's death, she must sacrifice her ambition for the sake of her family's relationships.