Professor Bhaer has gone West to work at the college and earn money for his nephews. Meanwhile, he and Jo keep up a brisk correspondence. Aunt March dies, and Jo is floored to learn that she has been left Plumfield, Aunt March’s estate. Jo reveals that she wishes to turn the old mansion into a school for boys.
This chapter signifies that the March family will enjoy a rich harvest at the end of their labors. Jo, for instance, is gifted with Plumfield – launching her solidly into the middle class.
The months fly by, and soon Jo finds herself married and living at Plumfield. They open the school, and after some trial and error the place flourishes. Jo goes on to have two boys of her own, Rob and Teddy.
Though the fit isn’t perfect, Jo finds herself much more in line with the 19th century feminine ideal now that she’s married and has children.
Five years after her marriage, at apple-picking time, Jo and Professor Bhaer host a harvest party at Plumfield. The Marches, the Laurences, and the Brookes all show up in full force, and the apple orchard is overrun with children. A toast is raised to Aunt March, and to Mrs. March’s sixtieth birthday. Jo’s students disappear into the branches of the trees and soon begin to sing a song written by Jo.
Jo’s students cling to the branches of the apple trees like ripe fruit. It’s implied that Jo and her sisters’ harvest is their children; this is in line with the 19th century ideal of womanhood. On a more feminist note, the entire scene wouldn’t have been possible without the matriarchs of the March family: Mrs. March and Aunt March.
Mrs. March sits “enthroned” in the grass, surrounded by her daughters. They all reflect on their respective gains and losses, and Mrs. March proclaims that Jo’s “harvest will be a good one.” Jo swears that there can be no greater harvest than Mrs. March’s. She thanks her mother heartily, and Mrs. March gathers her daughters into her arms. “Oh, my girls,” she cries, “however long you may live, I can never wish you a greater happiness than this!”
The image of Mrs. March seated with her daughters recalls the first chapter of the book, when the girls gathered at her feet in the sitting room of their modest house. Having grown into virtuous mothers, the March girls have fulfilled every wish their mother might have had for them. Familial love is seen as the greatest happiness of all.