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How did Beth die in Little Women?

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Beth contracts scarlet fever after she volunteers to nurse the sick children of the Hummels, her poor German neighbors. While she initially recovers, she is permanently weakened by the illness and eventually dies from complications. This parallels the life of Louisa May Alcott’s real-life sister, Lizzie, who also died of scarlet fever.

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In Little Women, Beth is described as the shyest sister. She is gentle and often keeps the peace among her family. She spends her time taking care of others, and while taking care of her poor neighbors, she catches scarlet fever. Her older sister, Jo, nurses her until she is a little better, but Beth never makes a full recovery. She suffers for a while, and it is clear when her time is coming to an end due to complications from the fever.

The character of Beth is based on Louisa May Alcott’s sister who died of scarlet fever at the young age of twenty-three. However, Beth did not exactly die of scarlet fever; rather, she died of complications from it.

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Elizabeth March, called "Beth," and the circumstances of her death in Louisa May Alcott's book Little Women, is based on the real life sister of the author. Louisa May Alcott's most beloved sister, Lizzie Alcott, was the "real" Beth. Lizzie Alcott died of scarlet fever when she was twenty-three. 

In the fictional story, the circumstances are mostly the same. Beth March, who has dedicated her life to quiet and unassuming charity, is visiting the Hummels. The Hummels are their neighbors, a poor German family with a widowed mother and six children. They live in dire poverty, and the Marches often provide them with gifts of food, firewood, blankets, and other necessities. When the children contract scarlet fever, Beth goes to help nurse them, fully knowing that she is at risk. Her self sacrifice is enormous. 

Beth contracts scarlet fever from this, and becomes terribly ill. The family, especially Jo, nurse her back to health. However, although she gets over the scarlet fever, her health is NEVER the same again. She is permanently weakened by this illness. Over time, she becomes weaker and weaker and sicker and sicker. The family grieves, eventually realizing that Beth will not live for much longer. 

Her death is the main tragedy of the novel. Although Beth seems to have the least agency of all the sisters, being the most shy and unambitious one, she is the one to have the most impact on the others. She is angelically selfless, and absolutely unconditionally compassionate at all times in her life. Even as she lays in her bed dying, she knits and sews clothes for the neighborhood children.

In conclusion, Beth March (mirrored by the real-life Lizzie Alcott), does not die directly from scarlet fever, but dies some time later of complications from scarlet fever. 

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Beth did a lot of charity work and caught scarlet fever from someone she had nursed. She did not die immediately but was weakened so much by the disease that she grew weaker until she finally died.

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What does Beth die from in Little Women?

Elizabeth "Beth" March is described as very shy, gentle, kind, caring, and humane. Alcott actually based the character on her own sister Lizzie Alcott who died from scarlet fever when she was only 23 years old.

Like Lizzie, Beth contracts scarlet fever when she volunteers to take care of the sick children of the Marches' poor and unfortunate German neighbors, the Hummels. Beth knows the risks that come with her decision to help the Hummels, but she still does it because her family have always been there for their neighbors and because she's very emphatic and compassionate. Marmee has also asked the girls to look after the Hummels.

Once Beth becomes sick, her family is determined to help her and they do everything they can to nurse Beth back to health. Beth's sister Jo is especially dedicated. They succeed, and Beth is cured (but not entirely); unfortunately, the disease permanently weakens her immune system and makes her much weaker and more susceptible to all kinds of illnesses and infections. Her family can see that Beth is slowly becoming sicker and weaker, and they begin to prepare for the worst; eventually, Beth dies from complications caused by scarlet fever.

The news of Beth's death leaves everyone in her family and in the community in general devastated, as she was very much loved and respected due to her unconditional kindness and compassion.

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