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Author Louisa May Alcott
Type of work Novel
Genre Sentimental novel; didactic novel; coming-of-age novel
Time and place written
1868–1869, Concord and Boston,
Date of first publication
Publisher Roberts Brothers
Narrator Omniscient. The narrator knows everything and provides analysis
and commentary about the characters and their lives.
Point of view Third person. The narrator focuses on all the different
characters in turn.
Tone Sympathetic and matter-of-fact; sometimes moralizing
Setting (time) During and after the Civil War, roughly 1861–1876
Setting (place) A small New England town
Protagonist Jo March
Major conflict The March sisters struggle to improve their various
flaws as they grow into adults. Jo dreams of becoming a great writer
and does not want to become a conventional adult woman.
Rising Action The sisters begin to mature; they meet Laurie, their
next-door neighbor; Meg gets married.
Climax Jo turns down Laurie’s marriage proposal, confirming
Falling Action Beth dies, and Amy marries Laurie; Jo marries Professor
Bhaer; Jo founds a school for boys and puts her writing career on
Themes Women’s struggle between familial duty and personal
growth; the danger of gender stereotyping; the necessity of work;
the importance of being genuine
Motifs Music, teaching, language
Symbols Umbrellas, burning
Foreshadowing When Laurie presents the March sisters with a postbox,
the narrator hints that love letters will pass through the box in
years to come. Laurie’s promise to kiss Amy before she dies foreshadows
their future marriage.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Little Women!