Chapter 29 Summary
One day Amy prods Jo to help her make several visits to neighbors who have recently visited them. People expect such social calls to be returned, and Amy feels that it is important to uphold appearances. Jo, on the other hand, finds social niceties annoying. She resists going and only agrees after Amy begs and flatters. The girls dress up in their best clothes—Amy happily and Jo grumpily—and step out into the world.
Before the girls visit the first house, Amy tells Jo to act calm and quiet. Jo responds by sitting in utter silence, refusing to speak unless people ask her a question—and even then she responds only with a stiff “yes” or “no.” Afterward, Amy scolds her sister and commands her to be friendlier.
At the second house, Jo imitates May Chester, a frivolous but fashionable young lady in their social circle. Jo charms everyone present and tells several stories about Amy’s cleverness, but her sister finds the stories highly embarrassing. They move on to the third house, where Amy tells Jo to do whatever she pleases. Jo spends the majority of her time playing with the little boys who live there, messing up her clothes and embarrassing Amy further.
Just before going home, the two girls call on Aunt March, who likes to see them dressed up in their best clothes. When they enter, Aunt March is sitting with another of their relatives, Aunt Carrol. The two aunts go abruptly quiet as the girls enter; it is clear that the March girls have been the subject of their discussion. The narrator hints that happy experiences will come to the girl who impresses the two aunts most.
In the conversation that follows, Amy mentions that she is planning to volunteer at a local fair. The Chesters are hosting the fair to raise money for charity, and it is considered an honor to be allowed to help. Jo says she does not plan to volunteer. She says the Chesters use girls for work and then expect them to be grateful for the opportunity. Amy says she does not mind working hard for a good cause, and she is in fact grateful to the Chesters for the chance to participate. Jo snarls at this, saying:
I don’t like favors, they oppress and make me feel like a slave. I’d rather do everything for myself and be perfectly independent.
At this, the aunts exchange glances. Aunt Carrol asks both girls if they speak French. Amy answers that she speaks well, but Jo says she hates foreign languages. The aunts nod at each other. By the time the girls leave, an important decision has been made.