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Chapter 34 Summary

Jo has always dreamed of becoming a rich and successful writer. Her desire for money is not for her own sake, but for the sake of her family, who would benefit greatly from her success. In order to fulfill this dream, she begins writing trashy thriller stories that earn relatively high paychecks.

The first time Jo writes such a story, she delivers it to the office of a newspaper called the Weekly Volcano. A week later, the editor offers her $25 for the piece, on the condition that she allow him to cut out all of the moral parts. Jo is a bit taken aback, but she agrees to his terms. Over the next few months, she writes several more trashy stories and collects whatever money she can get for them. She publishes her work anonymously and avoids telling her family about it.

Over time, Jo’s friendship with Professor Bhaer grows stronger. She studies him, hoping to learn what makes him such a good and likeable person. He is not rich or handsome—two traits that are common among well-liked people—but everyone loves and respects him. After a while, she realizes that people are attracted to his gentle and generous nature. He focuses his energy on others' needs rather than his own, and he is a happy person because of it.

Jo’s friendship with Miss Norton also grows, and with it comes a chance to meet some of New York’s many literary personalities. One evening at a party, she hovers in a corner listening to a group of philosophers tear down all of the religious and moral ideals Jo has held her whole life. She finds it fascinating to listen to them. However, Professor Bhaer also hears them, and he argues for good, old-fashioned religious beliefs. He does not make his points as well as the philosophers do, but his perspective is refreshing to Jo, who realizes that she agrees with him. Her respect for him increases.

One day during one of Jo’s German lessons, Professor Bhaer happens to see a page from a sensational newspaper similar to the Weekly Volcano. He says offhand that the contents of such stories are harmful and that girls like Jo should not read them. Hesitantly, Jo says that writing such...

(The entire section is 570 words.)