Little Women

by: Louisa May Alcott

Chapters 39–47

Summary Chapters 39–47

The fact that Jo inherits Aunt March’s old house recalls the bond that exists throughout the novel between these two strong March women. What makes this detail most important is that property is customarily inherited by a man from another man. Aunt March’s last act can therefore be seen as one of defiance against patriarchal norms. The endurance of this feminist stance is manifest in the fact that Jo too continues to defy gender conventions by sharing with her husband the typically male role of headmaster.

The end of the novel is both domestic and sentimental. Except for Beth, of course, all of the March girls have married, and two of them have had children. The girls’ children hint at the eternal nature of such stories. Long after these characters have gone, others will take their place in the endless cycle of growing up, nesting, and raising one’s children. As a sentimentalist novel, Little Women ends with everyone apparently getting what she deserves. Because of their continual efforts to be good, the March girls are rewarded with happy lives and loving families.