Mr. Laurence, Laurie's grandfather, is a wealthy old man who lives next door to the March family. Although old Mr. Laurence often seems crabby or intimidating, he's actually a very compassionate, thoughtful person who loves his grandson very much and has a special liking for the March girls. Mr. Laurence's particular favorite among the Marches is Beth, whose sweet manners and wonderful piano-playing remind him of the granddaughter he lost. Mr. Laurence reminds us that it's never too late to make up for something that's happened in the past – even though he cut off relations with his son because he didn't approve of his son's marriage, he's determined to make up for it by taking good care of Laurie. Mr. Laurence also functions as a device to keep the plot of the novel moving – whenever the Marches need money urgently for something, Mr. Laurence pops up to provide it.