5. Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!

These words from Marmee conclude the novel, at the end of Chapter 47, and also sum up the novel’s message. Through the four March sisters, Alcott presents many possible ways a woman can walk through life. Both the novel and Marmee finally decide that women must make some sacrifices for their families, in order to have the happiest life possible. Perhaps Alcott sometimes wished her life had turned out more traditionally and that she had married and had children. This ending is ambiguous at best, however, since the novel has called traditional values into question throughout.