Little Women Questions and Answers
by Louisa May Alcott

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After Beth died in "Little Women", what was Jo's new role, and how did she respond to it?

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Michael Foster eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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After Beth's death, Jo tried to assume her role as the innocent, helpful child.  Especially in relation to her parents, Jo felt the need to fill the void left by Beth's goodness.  Knowing how much of her parents' time was spent in "taking care" of Beth, Jo tried to submit to the same, though her parents did not feel the need to "take care" of Jo in the same way, since they had a great deal of respect for Jo's independence and self-sufficiency.

Jo felt incredibly constrained by this role, though she pursued it with her characteristic determination.    It took her a while before she realized that only Beth could fill Beth's place, just as Jo was the only one who could be herself.    She and her parents all had to learn to "live around the void" left by Beth's passing.

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samanthae | Student

Beth's death was a turning point for Jo. The whole family adored Beth, but Jo loved her with every fiber of her being. Jo did spend time trying to 'replace' Beth. It did make Jo calmer, more patient. They could never be the same person, though. Jo's role was the same as it was before to be who she was. That's why she turned down Laurie, it is why she married a man with children. It's why she was the one trying so desperately to cure Beth. Rough, wild Jo was always determined to make things the best that they could be. In the end, she ended up precisely were she wanted to be. In the midst of wild, rough boys as their mother. Biological for some, surrogate for others.

phillipathompson | Student

Another of Beth roles is to take the place of Beth for Mr.Laurence. Jo is at first troubled by this and isn't sure if she can. Alcott never gives any clear examples of this but it is what he asks.

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