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Chapter 29: Calls
Amy has grown to be quite a lady with manners and bearing that suggest a higher class upbringing than she has actually had. She likes to call on various members of the community and has talked Jo into going with her on this occasion. Amy gives Jo specific instructions on how to behave at each home. Jo doesn’t want to go in the first place, so she takes Amy’s instructions to extremes and exaggerates the behavior at each place. At the first home, she is told to behave "properly," so she sits perfectly still, barely talks and is regarded by her hosts as "haughty and uninteresting." At the second, she is told to be sociable, so she kisses all the girls, beams at the gentlemen and joins in a lively chat about some of Amy’s childhood episodes. At the Tudor home, Amy gives up and tells Jo to do whatever she likes. Thus when the time comes to leave, Jo is found sitting in the grass with a group of lively boys and their dog.
The visiting ends at Aunt March’s house where Jo’s abruptness will eventually cost her. Aunt March and Aunt Carrol, who happens to be spending the day with Aunt March, discuss an upcoming fair which is to be sponsored by the wealthy Chesters. Jo scoffs at the fair, calling it a patronage and ridiculing Amy for agreeing to be a part of it. Jo insists that she prefers not to accept favors from people. A bit later the aunts get into a discussion about speaking foreign languages; Amy says she speaks French fairly well, but Jo scoffs at that idea also. When Aunt March’s bird croaks a comment about taking a walk, Jo uses it as an excuse to leave.
The rivalry between Amy and Jo is awakened again in this chapter. There is no serious enmity, but Amy considers herself a very proper little lady and is understandably irritated because Jo couldn’t care less whether she makes a particular impression on anyone or not. Jo is not as ignorant of good manners as she pretends to be, but is behaving obstinately because she didn’t want to go calling but had obligated herself with an earlier promise.