Little Women

Little Women

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Little Women Part 2, Chapter 39 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Laurie remains in Nice for a month. He seems to have become quite lazy, and Amy grows disappointed in him. One day, she asks him to accompany her on a drive to Valrosa. When they arrive, Amy comments that it’s a “regular honeymoon paradise,” given the abundance of roses and romantic nooks. A thorn pricks Laurie as he attempts to pluck a single red rose that sits just beyond his reach, and Amy suggests that he try one of the roses lower down, as they have no thorns. Laurie laughs as she says this – it makes him think of Jo.
Once again, the symbol of the flower enters into the text. This time, the rose bears a direct relation to Jo and her thorny treatment of Laurie. The notion that Laurie should try the roses lower down, as they have no thorns, is one that he will soon put into practice when he pursues Amy. Amy notes that Laurie’s laziness has made him prone to sinful behavior and attitudes.
Themes
Work and Social Class Theme Icon
Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Amy asks Laurie when he’s going back to Mr. Laurence – she’s asked him this before, and each time he’s said he’d go soon, to no avail. Laurie shrugs her question off. He lounges near her and she begins to sketch him. Amy asks him for news from home, and he quickly changes the subject. Laurie asks Amy about her art (she’s relegated it to a hobby, having become discouraged in Rome) and about whether she plans on marrying Fred Vaughn.
Mr. Laurence, you’ll remember, is currently attending to business in London. Amy’s query implies that she thinks a bit of work (namely, working for his grandfather in London) would do Laurie good. Laurie recognizes that Amy is now a grown woman, and as such she will marry soon.
Themes
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Work and Social Class Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Laurie continues to lounge indolently, and Amy grows frustrated. She tells him that she and her cousin have taken to calling him Lazy Laurence. “I despise you,” she says. She mocks the softness and whiteness of his hands, and wishes out loud that Jo were there to help her. Laurie agrees, and something in the tone of his voice makes Amy realize that Jo has spurned him.
Soft, white hands were associated with femininity and weakness in the 19th century. Amy’s insult implies that she thinks Laurie’s idleness is causing him to become morally lax.
Themes
Work and Social Class Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Amy feels bad for Laurie, but continues to scold him for being lazy. She tells him that Jo wouldn’t have wanted to see him this way. Amy then shows Laurie two sketches – one old one of him trying to tame a young colt, and another (freshly drawn) of him lying in the grass. Laurie suggests that they should return to the hotel. Amy fears that she’s offended him, but her scolding has actually done Laurie good. Laurie bids her adieu at the hotel and begs off dinner, saying that he has an engagement.
In a patriarchal society, women were often put in the position of being role models to the men around them. They were expected to uphold morality, so as to inspire the men around them to be better. Amy clearly fills that role in this scene.
Themes
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Christianity, Morality, and Goodness Theme Icon
Work and Social Class Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
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The next day, Amy receives a note from Laurie, stating that he’s returning to London to be with Mr. Laurence. He sends his regards to Fred Vaughn, and insinuates that Fred might be in need of a “rouser.”
Laurie recognizes that it was wrong for him to have been so idle. He insinuates that Fred may be guilty of the same.
Themes
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Work and Social Class Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon