Chapter 2 Summary

When the March girls wake up on Christmas morning, they each find a copy of a book—most likely a copy of the Bible or Pilgrim’s Progress. Meg makes a little speech about how, from now on, she will read a few pages in her book every morning when she wakes up. The younger girls feel impressed by this example and resolve to do the same.

After reading, the girls go downstairs to Hannah, the family’s friend and servant, who says that Marmee is out with a child who “come a-beggin’.” The older girls prepare Marmee’s gifts but Amy disappears. When she returns, she shows them that she has swapped out a small bottle of cologne that cost just a few cents for a large one that cost her entire dollar. “I’m truly trying not to be selfish anymore,” she says.

Moments later, Marmee comes in and asks if the girls will give their delicious Christmas breakfast to a poor family that lives around the corner. After a brief hesitation, the girls agree. They carry their food away and watch a family of hungry children eat it. Afterward, they go home and eat a bit of bread and milk.

The girls give Marmee her presents: gloves from Meg, slippers from Jo, handkerchiefs from Beth, and the large bottle of cologne from Amy. Marmee gasps with pleasure at these small offerings, and the girls are satisfied with their little surprise.

That night, the girls put on an elaborate play for a dozen of their friends. Jo wrote the script; it is a romantic story about an evil villain and a charming hero who try to woo the same girl. Jo plays the main male roles and Meg plays the main female roles. Meanwhile, the little girls perform a few small parts each. A disaster occurs in the second act: the set collapses mid-scene. The audience finds this hilarious, and the girls soon recover from their accident and finish the play.

After the show, everyone goes downstairs to find a feast of ice cream and bonbons. They are amazed to see such luxurious treats, and Marmee explains that their neighbor, the wealthy Mr. Laurence, sent the little feast. He heard about the girls’ decision to give up their Christmas breakfast, and he was touched, so he decided to reward them. Jo says Mr. Laurence’s grandson probably suggested this plan. She thinks he is a nice boy but very shy. She wishes she could get to know him somehow.

Christmas ends happily, but the girls miss Father. As Beth says, “I’m afraid he isn’t having such a merry Christmas as we are.”