Chapter 24 Summary
Part two of Little Women begins three years later, on the day before Meg’s wedding. The years have brought just a few changes to the March family. Father is home permanently now. He spends his time preaching in his parish and studying his books. He is a source of comfort and answers for anyone who needs them.
Shortly after his engagement to Meg, John Brooke spent one year serving in the war. Since his return, he has established himself in a career as a bookkeeper. Meg has worked at learning the skills of a good housewife. She knows her first home will be modest, and she occasionally feels a pang when she sees the beautiful possessions of girls who are marrying richer men. However, she knows John is the right man for her, so she has little trouble pushing aside her small regrets.
After Beth’s illness, Jo never returned to Aunt March’s house. Instead, she remains at home writing stories and looking after her sister, who has never been quite as healthy since her bout of scarlet fever. In spite of this, Beth’s life is as happy and quiet as ever. Amy has grown into a beautiful and talented young woman and now works for Aunt March in Jo’s place.
Laurie is away at college. He is a lazy student who gets into a great deal of mischief, but his love for his grandfather and for the March family keeps him out of the worst kinds of trouble. He visits home often with his many friends. Beth finds these boys scary and Meg is too absorbed in her fiancé to notice them. However, the boys are friendly with Jo, and they take turns falling in love with beautiful Amy.
Meg’s little brown house is all ready for her new life with John. In preparation for her marriage tomorrow, she takes a final tour with Marmee and her sisters. Each of them has worked hard to help prepare her home, which now looks cozy and perfect. Meg says she is happy and ready for her new life. Although Jo still feels a bit grumpy that Meg is leaving, she has resigned herself somewhat to the idea that change will occur.
Laurie is home for the weekend, and he walks Jo back to the March house. On the way, Jo tells him he must behave better, work harder, and spend less money at college. He takes this lecture in good spirit. Jo fears that Amy will soon fall in love, but Laurie thinks Jo will be the next March sister to marry. When he says this, his red face suggests that he may know who wants to become her husband. Jo does not notice his expression. She insists that she will never marry but will stay with her parents and become an old maid.