What is the age difference between Laurie and Amy in Little Women?

Quick answer:

Laurie is fifteen, almost sixteen, when the book opens, whereas Amy is twelve. This means there is a three year age difference between them.

Expert Answers

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There is a three year age difference between Laurie and Amy. When Jo meet Laurie, they have the following conversation:

"Aren't you but fifteen?" asked Jo, looking at the tall lad, whom she had imagined seventeen already.

"Sixteen, next month."

Laurie, as the above quote shows, is fifteen, almost sixteen, as the novel begins. We are told in the first chapter and in the later chapter where Amy is struck by her teacher with a ruler for bringing forbidden limes to school that Amy is twelve:

during the twelve years of her life she had been governed by love alone, and a blow of that sort had never touched her before.

Although Amy is only three years younger than Laurie, she is treated as much more the little kid in the novel by Jo. Jo is fifteen when Laurie is almost sixteen, making them very close in age. She sees her sister as a little child and an unwelcome tag-along on adventures with Laurie.

Often, these kinds of age gaps fade as people get older. This happens when Laurie and Amy meet up in Europe a few years later. By this time Laurie is in his early twenties and Amy in her late teens. As a grown woman, she seems closer in age to him than before and Laurie falls in love with her. Nevertheless, because we are used to thinking of Laurie as much more the grownup than Amy in the beginning of the book, it can be surprising that they marry.

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