Little Women Chapter 26 Summary
by Louisa May Alcott

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Chapter 26 Summary

At sixteen, Amy wants to be a famous artist just as much as she did at thirteen. She knows she is talented, but she does not know if she has any genius. In her attempts to find out, she has worked diligently at many forms of art. She has tried sculpting, painting, and drawing as well as a variety of other kinds of artwork. At one point, she worked at burning pictures into wood—a pursuit that left her family fearing she would set the house on fire. Some time later, an attempt at making plaster molds left her with her foot stuck in a cast. That misadventure became a highlight of family jokes for years.

Furthermore, Amy is determined to be a kind and accomplished gentlewoman. She is pretty and likeable, and so she is mostly successful at her attempts to pursue this goal. However, she sometimes tries too hard to compete with and impress the wealthy. Every now and then, this gets her into trouble.

Aunt March has been paying for expensive art classes for Amy, and all the other girls in the classes are rich. One day Amy asks Marmee if she can invite them to dinner and then take them out to draw a beautiful bridge near the house. Marmee suggests a very simple party but Amy wants a grand affair. She promises to pay for the food and do the work herself, so Marmee grants permission.

For days, Amy works hard to prepare for her party. The event is set for either Monday or Tuesday, depending on the weather. Monday’s weather is iffy, so Amy settles on Tuesday. In the meantime, some of her food spoils, and she has to scramble to put together a decent lunch for a large group. She borrows a large, fancy wagon of the Laurences and goes to get the girls at the train station—but only one girl shows up. Beth and Hannah clear away most of the food before the girl sees it, and Amy plays the hostess well. However, everyone knows she is disappointed.

At dinner, everyone is reluctant to bring up the topic of Amy’s party. Father, who had not been involved in the ordeal, makes an offhand comment about the fancy salads they are eating. This makes everyone else laugh—even Amy. Amy says she has learned not to try to be fancier than she really is. Then she begs everyone to avoid the topic for at least a month. Aside from some gentle teasing, they mostly do.