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MonkeyNotes-Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
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Chapter 13: Castles in the Air

Summary

Laurie spots the girls dressed as if to go walking or boating and thinks they have failed to invite him. He follows them and finds them in a little grove where each girl is engaged in her own particular hobby. Amy is drawing, Beth sorting cones for crafts, Meg sewing and Jo knitting and reading simultaneously.

After allowing Laurie to join them, the girls explain that they are still acting out Pilgrimís Progress, and that this little grove on the hill is their version of "The Delectable Mountain" because they can look far away and see the countryside where they hope to live some day. This brings a discussion of castles and dreams. Laurie wants a place to enjoy himself as a famous musician; Meg wants a house full of all sorts of luxurious things; Jo wants a stable of Arabian steeds piled with books; and Beth wants to stay at home with her parents and help care for the family.

Laurie declares that he has the key to his castle but isnít allowed to use it because he has to go to college. Jo thoughtlessly advises him to "sail away" in one of his own ships until he has accomplished his dreams, but Meg chastises her, reminding Laurie of the kindnesses he has received from his grandfather and Mr. Brooke.

Later that evening Laurie sees his grandfather in a pensive mood and resolves to give up his castle at least while the old man needs him.


Notes

The "castles" foreshadow the ways in which each girls ideals and fantasies will change by the end of the story. They also reflect the values of the society they associate with even though their own means are limited. It is interesting that Laurie, who has all the money he needs or wants, dreams of a castle that has nothing to do with money. But the girls are not yet ready to recognize that money does completely satisfy.

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