Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Chapter 17: Little Faithful
By the time Mrs. March has been gone a week, the girls begin to slack off in their duties and resolves to keep things operating as usual. Beth alone continues in her work and often completes her sistersí as well.
On of the tasks is to faithfully visit the Hummels who are very poor and have a sick baby. On this particular afternoon, Beth asks for someone else to visit because she is tired and doesnít know what to do for the baby. Each girl has an excuse to avoid going, so Beth goes again, and this time, the baby dies in her arms. Jo finds Beth sitting on her bed upstairs with a bottle of medicine in her hand. Beth explains that the baby died of scarlet fever, and that she is afraid she may get it, although she is sure she will have only a light case of it. Meg and Jo are immune, but Amy is not and is sent to live with Aunt March until the danger is past.
The narrator implies that the casual refusal of the other sisters to help Beth when she needs it will contribute to Bethís impending illness. The girls are never openly accused, but this and other events that occur and comments made in the story strongly suggest that the family didnít appreciate Beth enough. One of the ongoing "lessons" that the other three March girls take all of their teen years to learn is to appreciate whatever they have even when others around them seem to have better lives. This appreciativeness applies not only to things, but also to people.