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MonkeyNotes-Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
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Chapter 33: Jo’s Journal

Summary

Jo writes a series of letters telling about her activities in New York. She makes friends with Mrs. Norton, a spinster lady who helps her get acquainted and frequently invites her to the family style evening meal in the large, apartment-like boarding house.

The most important person she meets is Professor Bhaer (later called Fritz) who tutors a number of children in German; he is homely and has some uncouth mannerisms, but Jo likes him for his good nature and his love for the children. She and Mrs. Kirke do a little sewing for him because they feel sorry for him when they see him darning his own socks. Mr. Bhaer insists on returning the favor by giving Jo lessons in German. After the first four lessons, however, Jo is hopeless confused by the grammar. At length, Mr. Bhaer tosses down the grammar book and teaches Jo by reading German fairy tales with her, a method which seems to suit her much better.

Jo finds her self taking an interest in other people and working with a will. She participates in a New Year’s Eve masquerade and has some of the snobbish young men deciding that she is an "actress." Professor Bhaer gives Jo an anthology of Shakespeare’s work for a Christmas present.


Notes

The narrator seems to be using a little more subtlety in this chapter. The professor in nearly 40 and thus would seem much too old for Jo. However, the romance for which this chapter prepares us is of the best kind. Jo and Mr. Bhaer become dear friends long before she thinks of him in any romantic way.

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