Chapter 27 Summary
Like Amy, Jo is still ambitious about her goals. Every now and then, she disappears into her attic and works feverishly at her novel—sometimes for weeks on end. One day just after she finishes such a period of hard work, she goes to a lecture about the pyramids with a neighbor, Mrs. Crocker. While there, Jo sees a boy reading a paper full of silly, action-packed stories. The boy lets Jo read a bit, and he says the author makes a lot of money from them. Intrigued, Jo decides to write a story and submit it to the paper’s upcoming contest, which offers a $100 prize.
Jo writes a sensational story full of murder and romance, and she mails it to the paper. For six weeks, she tells nobody what she has done—until a letter arrives containing a $100 check. She has won the grand prize, and the editor of the paper has written a very kind letter about her skills. Jo loves the letter as much as the money. Her family is pleased, too, although Father is not altogether approving of the story. “You can do better than this, Jo. Aim at the highest, and never mind the money,” he says.
To Jo, who has worked for years to become a successful writer, the money is a wonderful affirmation of her skills. She uses it to send Mother and Beth to the seaside for a couple of months; this treat improves Beth’s health greatly. Jo writes and publishes several other stories in a similar vein, and her earnings pay for modest luxuries for the whole family. Jo loves seeing her work benefit the people she loves.
Through all of this, Jo continues working on her novel. When she has made it as good as she can, she sends it to a publisher, who shows interest but asks her to make several changes. Jo seeks advice from her family, and they provide several contradictory critiques. In the end, Jo tries to please all of them at once, and this makes her novel worse rather than better. However, it does get published, and she earns $300.
Jo knows that her work is not yet mature, and she publishes partly because she wants feedback from the critics. However, the reviews of her work are even more contradictory than her family’s advice. Some say her story is morally vacuous; others say it moralizes too much. Jo is disappointed by the criticism she receives, but in the end she comforts herself and resolves to write another novel someday when she is ready.