I ought to be satisfied to please grandfather, and I do try, but it’s working against the grain, you see, and comes hard.
The Laurence household, in stark contrast to the March household, is a place of rigid expectations. Laurie is set on the path his grandfather expects him to follow and, while Laurie wants to honor his family, that path leaves him feeling isolated, restricted, and dissatisfied. Laurie finds so much comfort in the March family because they encourage him to grow as he will, so long as he uses his life for the good of others. He cares deeply for his grandfather and wants to show that care with his obedience. Although he is not always successful, his desire to love his grandfather well is a crucial part of his growth.
I keep turning over new leaves, and spoiling them . . . and I make so many new beginnings there never will be an end.
Throughout the novel, Laurie swings between grand, thoughtful gestures and fits of stubborn selfishness. His inconsistency is his struggle. However, Laurie understands his actions and sees how they affect the people around him. He does not cause harm without realizing and attempting to reconcile his actions. Even though the members of the March family are largely a good influence on Laurie, Jo and Laurie feed each other’s stubbornness and wistful thinking. His admiration for her sometimes gets in the way of his improving himself. As he grows up, and particularly when he begins to look up to Amy rather than Jo, Laurie begins to stick with his good intentions until he produces the good results he wants.
It’s no use, Jo; we’ve got to have it out, and the sooner the better for both of us.
Laurie’s unsuccessful marriage proposal to Jo marks the end of his childhood and the beginning of his growth as an adult. From the first time Laurie met Jo, the two of them naturally pair off and come to care for each other deeply. Laurie holds on to their inseparability and falls in love with Jo, but she does not return the romantic affection. Laurie is accustomed to having his own way, and he cannot understand why Jo would reject the future that makes the most sense to him. However, all the time Laurie spends infatuated with Jo keeps him from growing as an individual and discovering what he truly wants for himself. After this rejection from Jo, he finally begins to look at the world from a new perspective and learn many of the lessons in maturity the women had been learning without him.