In 1868, Louisa May Alcott wrote the book Little Women in "response to a publisher's request for a 'girl's book'". Louisa wrote this book by calling upon her own memories of her childhood and putting them down on paper. This is the story of four young girls, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March, and how they endure all the trouble and hardships that come along during their lives. They are raised by their mother and by their father, and many interesting characters pop up along the way, such as Laurie, their good-natured next-door neighbor; Laurie later falls in love with Jo but ends up marrying Amy. In the beginning of the story they are all fairly young, the youngest being twelve years old, and their mother, whom they call Marmee, is left to guide them while their father is away fighting in the war. As they grow and mature, they learn many hard lessons about life. For instance, there was the time when Amy, the youngest, suffered her first punishment in school. She carries that anger, humility, and embarrassment with her for the rest of her life. There were also more serious lessons to be learned, like when one of the sisters, Beth, dies. By the end of the book, they really have turned from little women into real women. Jo was the second oldest of the four sisters. Her birth name was Josephine, but she always thought that it sounded too feminine, so she shortened it to Jo. Clearly, Jo was one of the main characters of the story because many of the events centered on her and the audience learned more about who she was. She was a tomboy at heart and hated all the prim and proper ways of the ladies in those days. Jo was very blunt in her speaking and always said exactly what was on her mind. However, most people felt right at ease speaking with her because she had a way of making them feel comfortable, despite her frankness. Jo was the one who first had enough courage to go over to the frightening house next door and talk with the Laurence Boy, whom they knew as Laurie after that, and became the best of friends with him. Despite that one good trait, Jo has an uncontrollable temper that can erupt at any time. This is quite evident one day when Amy burns one of Jo's most precious items-a book that she wrote stories in and had for years. She is so outraged that she cannot even look Amy in the face and storms out of the house. Jo then watches as Amy follows her and Laurie outside to a pond to go ice-skating. Laurie warns Jo that the ice is very thin in the middle, but Amy does not hear him and proceeds to skate into the center. Jo does nothing to stop her. Amy almost died that day, and Jo realized that her selfishness and anger almost cost her her own sister. Mrs. March then teaches Jo how to control her temper, and that was one of the most valuable lessons she ever learned. Jo has the ability to see things as they are. She can see through any kind of facade, and she will never put up a facade of her own. As they say in France, 'Elle est la creme de la creme'. She is the best of the best. Another character that is very important yet was not seen very much was Mrs. March, the girls' mother. Mrs. March was a very emotionally strong woman who would give up anything for someone else. She is very aware of how her daughters are feeling. Their father is at war, and they no longer have the money that they once had. Mrs. March makes sure that her children count the blessings that they do have and that they do not complain. Continuously yearning for more makes one unappreciative of what he already has. She demands authority, yet is gentle as a small mouse. She is actually both father and mother to the girls because although her husband does come home later in the book, he is rarely seen. Mrs. March and Jo are actually quite alike. They both have spitfire tempers, and they both know how to get their point across tactfully. Mrs. March provides wisdom and advice and guides her daughters down the straight and narrow path toward happy and fulfilling lives. There are two themes to this book. The first one is that family is everything in a person's life. A family is there for when a person is soaring above the stars, and they are there to pick him up again when he falls. It is very difficult to get through life without a caring and loving family to offer support in all of life's experiences. Those blessed with this precious gift rarely seem to appreciate it to the full extent that they should. The second theme of this book shows that no matter how hard situations get and how much turmoil life deals out, no one should ever give up. Everyone goes through tough times, but perseverance and a good attitude will fend off the blows life delivers everyday. Little Women is definitely a classic that will continue on through the ages. Everyone should read this book once before they're too old and hardened to appreciate it. This book set a precedent for how all good literature should be written. From this book I've learned how to pick up and get on with my life after something bad happens. If the Marches can carry on after the death of their sister Beth, then the common man should be able to go on after smaller challenges entrap him. Mankind should always love and support each other in all areas of life, and maybe this will make this world just a little more pleasant in which to live.
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