Chapter 39 Summary
Laurie originally plans to visit Amy for a week, but he ends up staying a month. During that time, he finds more and more to like about her. She is not only beautiful and gracious, but also selfless. She finds many little ways to help him, and he appreciates everything she does.
Amy, on the other hand, finds less and less to like about Laurie. Although he is generous with his money, he refuses to make any kind of effort for anyone else’s sake. Amy and Flo nickname him “Lazy Laurence,” and Amy finds herself missing the happy and loving boy she used to know.
During her travels in Europe, Amy has learned that she has no genius for art. She has talent and energy, but she will never be truly brilliant. On an excursion with Laurie one day, she confesses that she no longer has plans to become a great artist. As she sees it, there is no point trying to reach for an unattainable goal. Instead of becoming an artist, she will be a gentlewoman and a rich man’s wife.
Laurie admires the way Amy can face the truth about herself, even when it is unpleasant. Her comments about wealth lead him to ask her about Fred Vaughn. When Amy admits that she plans to marry Fred for his money, Laurie tells her that it is strange to hear such words from the mouth of a March. When he says this, Amy realizes that she is a little ashamed of her plans.
Amy wants to shake Laurie out of his apathy, so she tells him about his “Lazy Laurence” nickname. He just laughs, and Amy says she is not surprised. She says that selfish people always like talking about themselves. This makes Laurie sit up and take notice. He prides himself on his generosity, so it surprises him to be called selfish.
Amy refuses to take back what she has said. In her opinion, it is selfish for Laurie to make so little effort for other people. He has every gift a person could want: wealth, position, influence, intelligence, and good looks. And yet he accomplishes nothing, has no ambitions, and makes no effect on the world. “I despise you,” she says.
The following morning, Amy receives a note from Laurie, saying that he has returned to his grandfather in Paris. She is glad that he has gone because she does not want him to shirk his family responsibilities. However, she admits privately to herself that she will miss him.