Chapter 35 Summary
During Jo’s absence, Laurie studies hard, hoping to impress her with his efforts. To his grandfather’s joy, he graduates college with honors. Jo returns home in time to attend his graduation party. Not long afterward, the two of them take a walk together, and he grows very quiet. Realizing that he is about to propose marriage, she begs him not to do it. She confesses that she went away to New York in the hopes that he would forget about her.
Laurie proposes anyway, and Jo is forced to say no. She feels terrible when she sees how disappointed he is, and she begs him to understand that she loves him as a friend and a brother. He suggests that she force herself to love him romantically, and she says, “I don’t believe it’s the right sort of love, and I’d rather not try it.” When Laurie continues to argue, she explains that she thinks the two of them would make each other miserable. Their hot tempers would lead them to fight. Laurie’s outgoing nature would make Jo miserable. Jo’s literary efforts would make Laurie jealous. None of these arguments changes Laurie’s mind. He says that he would be a perfect husband, if only Jo would marry him. When she does not relent, he calls her cold and cruel. Jo, furious at herself for hurting him, cannot help but agree.
At the end of this conversation, Laurie shouts that he is going “to the devil!” He runs down to the river and departs in a small boat, venting his feelings on the effort of rowing. Jo watches him leave and then pays a visit to old Mr. Laurence to explain what has happened. Mr. Laurence is disappointed. He, too, wanted Laurie to marry Jo. However, he accepts Jo’s feelings and resolves to comfort his grandson.
In the evening, Laurie returns home and plays sad songs on the piano. After a while, his grandfather confesses that he knows what happened. He offers to take Laurie on a trip to Europe. Laurie has some misgivings, but the prospect of traveling gives him a bit of happiness in spite of his pain. Nevertheless, he acts moody and unhappy through the preparations for his departure.
Just before Laurie leaves town, he asks Jo quietly one last time if she can grow to love him. Once again, she refuses. As she does so, she feels that she is taking something valuable away from him—his boyhood.