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MonkeyNotes-Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
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Chapter 40: Valley of Shadow

Summary

In one of the shortest but most emotionally packed chapters of the novel, Beth dies. For the last year of her life she is given the best room in the house and is continuously surrounded by family. Her favorite is Jo who scarcely leaves the room, but tends the fire and waits on her tirelessly. In spite of her grief, Jo begins to feel that she will never really lose Beth, that even death will not be able to separate them.


Notes

The death of Beth is a literary technique for getting a character out of the way who has served her purpose. Beth herself remarks that she alone has no ambitions, no desire to do anything other than live at home and be a help and comfort to her parents. While growing up she has had a subduing effect on Jos impetuous nature and as a character has been a mild foil to both Jo and Amy. Although it creates an intensely emotional moment in the story, her purpose has been accomplished and she needs to be moved "out of the way" in order for Jo to be open to a romantic type of love for herself.

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MonkeyNotes-Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
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