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Chapter 35: Heartache
Laurie has graduated from college; he put forth some real effort and graduated with honors in hopes of winning Jo. He proposes to her in spite of her objections and she tells him that although she is very fond of him, she does not love him in the way that he wants her to.
Mr. Laurence is sympathetic with his grandson, but understands that love cannot be forced. In an attempt to consol Laurie and get his mind off of his feelings of rejection, Mr. Laurence plans a trip to London. At first Laurie objects, but promises of utter freedom to wander Europe while Mr. Laurence tends to business in London finally convince him to go. He has no interest in the trip however, and even his final words to Jo are a plea for her to reconsider.
Jo’s refusal of Laurie is one of the few real surprises of the novel. From the beginning, Jo has been the one to reach out to Laurie on every possible occasion and to include him in all of the family events, even to their little family newspaper. Most readers would secretly hope that eventually Jo will change her mind, but this decision is not a smoking gun. Jo loves Laurie like a brother and has loved him without reserve because it IS a brother/sister relationship in her eyes. She has no thought of romance with him and has consistently refused to acknowledge his changing feelings toward her. So Laurie has been figuratively passed from one sister to the other, leaving only Amy who unknowingly waits in Europe.