Chapter 7 Summary

One day Amy confesses to Meg that she is in debt. At her school, all of the girls love pickled limes. Amy’s friends have all bought limes for her in the past, but she has never had a chance to buy any for them. Meg gives Amy twenty-five cents to repay her debt.

The next day, Amy buys twenty-five limes and brings them to school. When the girls find out, they all try to get on her good side. Amy is pleased by the attention, and she looks forward to sharing her treat during recess. However, she is not planning to share with everyone. One girl, Jenny Snow, recently ridiculed Amy cruelly. Amy says that Jenny will not get any of the limes.

Jenny is furious and tells the teacher, Mr. Davis, that Amy has limes in her desk. It is against the rules to bring limes to school, and Mr. Davis has promised to make a harsh example of the next student to disobey him on this point. He makes Amy carry her limes to the window and throw them outside. Then he smacks her hand with a ruler and forces her to stand in front of the class until recess.

Amy is a sensitive girl whose parents do not believe in corporal punishment. She has never before been struck in anger by an adult, so this part of her punishment is very upsetting to her. However, standing in shame in front of her friends is even worse. As soon as she is released for recess, she runs home to complain to her family.

Marmee and the other girls hear Amy’s story and show her great sympathy. Marmee does not think Mr. Davis should have hit Amy, so she gives her permission to stay home and study with Beth for a while. However, Marmee also says that Amy should try to learn from the humiliating experience:

You are getting to be rather conceited, my dear, and it is quite time you set about correcting it. You have a good many little gifts and virtues, but there is no need of parading them.

She explains that talent earns far more respect when people do not ask to be praised for it and that virtue should be its own reward. Amy looks thoughtful, and she watches how her family treats Laurie, who is highly talented but also very modest. After he leaves, she agrees that it is good to develop one’s talents but refrain from showing off.