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Little Women | Study Guide

Louisa May Alcott

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Little Women | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • December 1861

    The March sisters commit to a metaphorical pilgrimage to perfect their characters.

    Part 1, Chapter 2
  • Winter 1862

    Jo visits Laurie when he is sick, and they become fast friends.

    Part 1, Chapter 5
  • Winter 1862

    Beth makes friends with Mr. Laurence, and he gifts her a piano.

    Part 1, Chapter 6
  • Winter 1862

    Amy burns Jo's stories; Jo repents her angry decision not to warn Amy about the thin ice.

    Part 1, Chapter 8
  • November 1863

    Beth gets sick with scarlet fever while Marmee is in Washington caring for Mr. March.

    Part 1, Chapter 17
  • December 1863

    Mr. March returns from the war, and Beth and Mr. March recover.

    Part 1, Chapter 22
  • June 1866

    Meg and Mr. Brooke get married.

    Part 2, Chapter 25
  • Second half of 1866

    Jo wins a writing contest and receives $100.

    Part 2, Chapter 27
  • Summer 1867

    Meg gives birth to twins.

    Part 2, Chapter 28
  • November 1867

    Jo goes to New York and makes the acquaintance of Professor Bhaer.

    Part 2, Chapter 33
  • Winter 1868

    Jo burns her sensational stories after Professor Bhaer criticizes such writing.

    Part 2, Chapter 34
  • July 1869

    Laurie graduates college and proposes to Jo.

    Part 2, Chapter 35
  • Summer 1869

    Laurie goes to Europe with Mr. Laurence after Jo turns him down.

    Part 2, Chapter 35
  • Spring 1870

    Beth dies of the aftereffects of scarlet fever.

    Part 2, Chapter 40
  • Spring/Summer 1870

    Laurie and Amy have been seeing each other in Europe, and Laurie proposes to Amy.

    Part 2, Chapter 41
  • November–December 1871

    A married Laurie and Amy return home; Professor Bhaer begins courting Jo.

    Part 2, Chapter 43
  • December 1871

    Jo agrees to marry Professor Bhaer after he can save some money.

    Part 2, Chapter 46
  • 1873

    Aunt March dies and leaves Jo her Plumfield estate.

    Part 2, Chapter 47
  • 1873

    Jo and Professor Bhaer get married and start a school at Plumfield.

    Part 2, Chapter 47
  • October 1878

    The family celebrates Marmee's 60th birthday; she has five grandchildren.

    Part 2, Chapter 47

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Preface An adapted poem from The Pilgrim's Progress (1678) by John Bunyan directly addresses the author's work (using the litera... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 1–3 Written in omniscient third-person narration, the novel begins in December 1861 and introduces the four protagonists, ... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 4–6 Following the New Year celebrations, the girls reluctantly resume their duties—Meg as a "nursery governess" and Jo as ... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 7–9 Amy gets money from her sister Meg to buy a bag of pickled limes to treat her classmates. Amy feels she must pay a deb... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 10–12 The March sisters set up a secret society called the Pickwick Club (P.C.) and name themselves after characters in the ... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 13–15 The March girls have remained busy through the summer and sometimes go to the woods to work, dressed like pilgrims to ... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 16–19 The girls put on a brave face for their mother but break down and cry after she leaves for the capital with Mr. Brooke... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 20–23 The girls are overjoyed to see their mother, especially Beth. When Amy hears from Laurie that her mother has arrived, ... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 24–26 The second part of the novel opens on the eve of Meg's wedding, and the narrator catches the reader up on the past thr... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 27–29 Jo is writing a novel and periodically shuts herself up in her "scribbling suit" (a black woolen pinafore and cap) to ... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 30–32 Amy has agreed to participate in Mrs. Chester's fair and is offered the art table, which entails a considerable amount... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 33–35 This chapter is a series of letters from Jo to Marmee and Beth. Her work with Mrs. Kirke goes well, and she makes the ... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 36–38 Jo notices a dramatic change in Beth that seems more spiritual than physical; she seems to be drifting away from the w... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 39–41 Laurie ends up spending a month in Nice, since he enjoys being with Amy, and both are happy to find a familiar friend ... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 42–44 Jo finds it hard to keep her promise to Beth when she is feeling so much despair over losing her sister. Marmee encour... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 45–47 The narrator notes she will be remiss if she does not devote a chapter to "the two most precious and important members... Read More
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