Little Women Questions and Answers
by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What is the main theme of Little Women?

The central theme in Little Women is the need for self-sacrifice, which ultimately brings happiness by doing for others, and that one must balance duty to family with personal desires in order to truly grow up. True sacrifice is rooted in love, compassion, charity and selflessness. Messages in this story have religious overtones.

Expert Answers info

Michelle Barry, M.B.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseProfessional Writer, Professional Researcher

bookB.A. from Swarthmore College

bookM.B.A. from New York University

calendarEducator since 2019

write727 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

One of the key themes of Little Women is the importance of family. The March sisters are extremely close to one another and to their parents. Receiving a letter from their father, who is away from home in the army as a chaplain, is a treat that raises the girls's spirits.

Another theme is the need to take on responsibility during difficult times and to maintain a strong outlook in the face of adversity. It is important to remember two things about the story. First, the March girls are living during a war. Many, if not most, of the men are away. Second, the March family is old and established. They once had money, but are now poor in comparison to their extended family. Yet, they are encouraged to deal with life's difficulties and not complain. As the title of the novel suggests, they are to act as "little women" with maturity beyond their actual years.

It does not mean that the girls do not want to have nice things or strive for more exciting times. However, it is important for them to...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1,017 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Elliot Tyson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write158 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Business, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

calendarEducator since 2016

write7,245 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

check Approved by eNotes Editorial