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MonkeyNotes-Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
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Chapter 32: Tender Troubles

Summary

Marmee is concerned about Beth who seems very quiet and is sometimes seen crying. She asks Jo to keep an eye on her and to find out what’s wrong. Jo thinks the problem is just that Beth is growing up. A few days of observation and some coincidental remarks about Laurie convince Jo that Beth is in love with Laurie, but that she is hiding her feelings because she believes Jo wants Laurie. Laurie himself is in love with Jo and tries to court her at every opportunity. Jo finally decides to take a trip to New York where Mrs. Kirke, an old friend of Marmee’s, has been looking for someone to work as a governess for her children. Hopefully, this will give Beth an opportunity to draw Laurie’s attentions toward herself.


Notes

Jo’s innocence of Beth’s real problem is a little contradictory here; of course, Jo may simply be in a state of denial as she had noted Beth’s condition in earlier chapters and had expressed concern. However, the narrator omnisciently communicates with the reader in leaving no doubt that Beth’s trouble is not "love lornity"; the eventual death of Beth has gone beyond foreshadow. We know that it is just a matter of time even though the characters in the story don’t appear to realize it yet.

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