Little Women Chapter 46 Summary
by Louisa May Alcott

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Chapter 46 Summary

Mr. Bhaer visits the Marches nearly every day for two weeks. He always seems to be passing when Jo is on her way somewhere, so the two of them take many walks together. Jo is not sure this is proper, but she decides that she cannot be expected to change her habits just because Mr. Bhaer often wants to walk the same direction she does. Her family says nothing about the matter. They all see a romance developing, but they give it time to grow in its own way.

Jo is growing quite used to Mr. Bhaer’s frequent visits when, quite suddenly, they stop. For three days, she does not see him. She grows worried that she means nothing to him and that he simply left town without saying goodbye. She goes out shopping and takes a side trip to the business district. There she wanders around, quite out of place among the busy men, hoping to catch a glimpse of her friend.

When it begins to rain, Jo decides that this excursion is silly. She sets out to do her errands, and on the way she meets Mr. Bhaer. He suspects that she is looking for him, but she does not admit it. She has no umbrella, so he walks with her to lend her his.

Flustered now that she and Mr. Bhaer are together, Jo acts cheerful one moment and distant the next. Mr. Bhaer finds her behavior quite confusing. He tells her that he is going away to teach college out West, and she acts like she does not care. However, not long afterward, she begins to cry. When he asks why, she admits that she is sad he is going away.

Mr. Bhaer is thrilled to hear this. He has loved Jo since New York, but he could not believe that a pretty young girl would accept a poor, unattractive, forty-year-old man like him. During their friendship years ago, he assumed she loved Laurie. However, he recently read a poem that made him suspect she was lonely. At this point, he decided to visit her and find out if he had a chance.

Mr. Bhaer proposes on the spot, and Jo accepts. They are both muddy and laden with packages, but Jo does not care. Nor does she object when he says that he must go away and work for a year or two before they can marry. She says she will work and do her duty to her family, waiting to welcome him home when he is able to come.