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Chapter 11: Experiments
It is the first of June and all of the girls are looking forward to vacation. The Kings have gone to the seashore, Aunt March is gone to Plumfield to visit other family, and Beth and Amy think they should have some freedom from lessons. Each one plans to spend days in idleness, sleeping in, playing with dolls, practicing new songs and reading books-anything so long as they are entirely free from chores.
Marmee allows the girls to have their workfree lives as an experiment that will last one week. The first day seems to be a success, but succeeding days become longer and more boring, and the girls are irritable with each other. On the last day of the experiment, Marmee adds to it by giving Hannah the day off and then going out herself. The situation goes from bad to worse as Beth finds her bird dead for want of food or water, and unexpected company in the person of the gossipy Mrs. Crocker shows up for a disastrous supper. Later in the evening several other callers visit the frantic little group. The girls decide that they do not wish to continue their experiment, and that life proceeds more smoothly when every member does a fair share of the work.
The events of this chapter are very logical and down to earth. It is normal for a group of teens to feel that vacation means utter freedom and absence from any kind of work. Marmee shows that she is capable of a sense of humor when she takes the day off herself and gives Hannah a vacation as well. The girls not only learn that life becomes chaotic when their share is not done, but they also acquire a new appreciation for the many unmentioned things their mother always does for them.