Little Women – Part 2

This episode went a little long, but that’s just because there is quite a lot to say about this book. Little Women has flaws, but that just makes it more human. However, somehow we all got the idea that Jo is the March sister to admire and Amy is the one we should despise. If you can set aside the way these characters have been played in film adaptations and just look at what’s on the page, you’ll find that Amy’s the real hero here.

Activity: Debate – Jo vs. Amy

Read the passage in Chapter 26 where Jo and Amy disagree about whether Amy’s friendships are genuine:

“Why in the world should you spend your money, worry your family, and turn the house upside down for a parcel of girls who don’t care a sixpence for you? I thought you had too much pride and sense to truckle to any mortal woman just because she wears French boots and rides in a coupe,” said Jo, who, being called from the tragic climax of her novel, was not in the best mood for social enterprises.

“I don’t truckle, and I hate being patronized as much as you do!” returned Amy indignantly, for the two still jangled when such questions arose. “The girls do care for me, and I for them, and there’s a great deal of kindness and sense and talent among them, in spite of what you call fashionable nonsense. You don’t care to make people like you, to go into good society, and cultivate your manners and tastes. I do, and I mean to make the most of every chance that comes. You can go through the world with your elbows out and your nose in the air, and call it independence, if you like. That’s not my way.”

When Amy had whetted her tongue and freed her mind she usually got the best of it, for she seldom failed to have common sense on her side, while Jo carried her love of liberty and hate of conventionalities to such an unlimited extent that she naturally found herself worsted in an argument. Amy’s definition of Jo’s idea of independence was such a good hit that both burst out laughing, and the discussion took a more amiable turn. Much against her will, Jo at length consented to sacrifice a day to Mrs. Grundy, and help her sister through what she regarded as ‘a nonsensical business’.

Pair students off or divide them into small groups. Assign each student or group a position to take: Jo’s or Amy’s. Encourage them to consider the following questions in preparing their positions:

    • How can you know when relationships are genuine when popularity is at stake?
    • Is there any difference between Jo’s snobbery against friendships and that of teens who only care about popularity?
    • How can we find the balance between worrying only about popularity and rejecting friendships altogether?

Students can then present their positions and follow up with debate. This activity could also be done as an essay comparing Jo’s and Amy’s position and ending with students deciding which perspective they endorse.

Music in this Episode

“Come Ye Desconsolate” with lyrics by Thomas Moore and music by Thomas Hastings
“He That is Down Needs Fear no Fall” with lyrics by John Bunyan
Selections from Wilhelm Meister with lyrics by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and music by Franz Schubert
“Allegro” – Fanny Mendelssohn
Theme music: “The Hazel Dell” by Derek B. Scott

Little Women – Part 1

In this episode, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott gets knocked off its pedestal. It’s okay if that makes you angry. I can handle the hate mail.

Activity:

Make Amy’s Pickled Limes

Materials needed:
Fresh limes
salt
water
saucepan
half pint mason jars with bands and lids (slices from about one and a half limes will fit in each jar)

Note: If you are making limes for use in a standard classroom, you may wish to use a larger jar to avoid having to clean multiple jars or waste bands and lids. A quart sized jar would hold enough lime wedges for one classroom. Smaller jars are recommended if only a few limes are needed at a time as they have the best taste and texture when eaten very soon after the jar is opened. Also, be sure to prepare the limes three to six weeks before they are needed for a lesson.

Get a saucepan and mix water and salt. You will need a scant teaspoon of salt per cup of water. Warm the water just enough to allow the salt to fully dissolve. Stir to mix it evenly. Let the water cool to room temperature.

Thoroughly clean the mason jars and lids with hot soap and water. Rinse and drain the jars and lids.

Wash the limes. Slice each one into eight wedges of equal size. Gently pack the lime wedges into the jars to fill them, but leave a quarter inch of space at the top. Pour in enough salt water to cover the limes. Put on the lids and screw on the lid bands tightly. Label the jars with today’s date and put them in the refrigerator. Each lime wedge has about 2.5 calories and no added sugar, but they pack just as much flavor as any sugary sour candy.

Allow the limes to pickle for at least three weeks. Treat them like any other kind of refrigerator pickles — they will not keep more than three months as they haven’t been processed. Once the jars are opened it is best to eat the limes right away. Drain and discard the salt brine, then serve the lime slices while reading or discussing Chapter 7, “Amy’s Valley of Humiliation.” Be sure to discard the rinds appropriately to avoid infuriating the teacher.

Music in this episode

The following songs are mentioned in Little Women and were used as background music:

“Come Ye Desconsolate” with lyrics by Thomas Moore and music by Thomas Hastings
“He That is Down Needs Fear no Fall” with lyrics by John Bunyan
Selections from Wilhelm Meister with lyrics by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and music by Franz Schubert

Theme music: “The Hazel Dell” by Derek B. Scott