Thoughts and Observations:
- I always laugh at Jo's blunderbussey ways. In middle school I had an unfortunate period of extreme blunderbuss and I remember doing so many of the things that Jo does. Burning hair off? It's a miracle that never happened. Jo's dresses are always burnt (including her party dress) because she backs up to the fire-something I did repeatedly. Actually, I still do that. *Ahem.* Anyway, I always laugh and laugh when Jo, who has one glove stained with lemonade, scrubs up spilled coffee with the other one. Oh dear.
- I really noticed the commentary on fashions this time around. I'd noticed it before, but knowing that I was going to be writing about it made me think even more critically. Jo and Meg's toilet is very detailed and everything from the number of hair pins in Jo's thick hair to Meg's nice gloves is covered. However, Alcott is definitely critical of the attention and pain given to women's dress. She writes at the end of the clothing description:
"Meg's high-heeled slippers were dreadfully tight, and hurt her, though she would not own it, and Jo's nineteen hair-pins all seemed stuck straight into her head, which was not exactly comfortable; but, dear me, let us be elegant or die!"
- This quote made me think about women's clothing today. Have we progressed? I know that I love clothes and enjoy spending time thinking about what I wear, but I like to think that, should a woman prefer to wear nothing but comfortable clothes, society should respect that. Which leads me to my second question-do you think that we suffer less pain for beauty now? However, I am not willing to say that we, as a society, shouldn't have rules about how people dress for different things. Because wearing jeans to a formal occasion is just not okay. But I'm also not going to say that women have to wear spandex or high, high heels to said formal occasion. Anyway, I'd love your thoughts on this.
- Jo and Laurie's friendship was obviously another place that Alcott was being extremely counter-cultural. Boys and girls and Laurie and Jo's age would have been thinking of each other only in terms of romance and Alcott objected to that. Again, I wonder if Alcott would be pleased that men and women can be friends now without raising eyebrows. And, again, I also see that we have not come as far as we think we have. Who admits to having even had it cross their minds that Laurie and Jo would make a good couple? I know I have. Sorry, Louisa.
- The other thing that I noticed is that I can't remember what my Book Laurie looked like. I can remember a time, back when I read the book in, oh, 6th grade, where Book Laurie had a face. Then, I saw the movie in high school and have always picture Movie Laurie when I read the book. I can't remember what that face looked like and it's something that makes me a little sad. That's something that I've noticed about seeing a movie after having read a book. I almost always have clear images of the characters I read about, but once I see the movie, those characters are erased and replaced by the faces of the actors in the movie. Luckily, I liked Laurie in the movie, so it's not like I have the face of an unbearable character etched in my mind, but it is slightly annoying.
"'I don't believe fine young ladies enjoy themselves a bit more than we do, in spite of our burnt hair, old gowns, one glove apiece, and tight slippers, that sprain our ankles when we are silly enough to wear them.' And I think Jo was quite right."
Questions for Discussion:
1.) What do you think about the opposite-gender friendships discussion? Have we progressed?
2.) What about fashions of today vs. then?
3.) Would you prefer to be like Jo-standing in the corner with a good friend making snide remarks about people-or Meg-out dancing?