30 Oct 2012
This chapter makes me mad
So let me get this right. Jo and Meg have been invited by Laurie to see the Seven Castles. When little sister, Amy, discovers this, she demands to be able to go too. What a spoiled brat! She hasn't been invited, and she isn't wanted. In addition, she has been ill and her mother thinks she should stay home because her eyes haven't recovered sufficiently from her cold (whatever that means). She is not even going to miss the show, because she is to go the very next week. She harps on and on at her sisters, who stand their ground. It isn't often that they're invited anywhere, and Jo doesn't want the responsibility of overseeing her fidgety younger sister. Eventually, after putting up with her younger sister's insolent and arrogant behaviour for some time, Jo snaps. The spoiled one begins to wail. Not whimper, wail. As her sisters leave she threatens revenge on Jo.
While the girls are gone, Amy takes Jo's prized manuscript and burns it in the fire. Several years worth of irreplaceable, much cared for work. Jo, as you can imagine, is inconsolable. As you would expect. This is just devastating.
The girls' mother returns home and takes some time to explain to Amy that what she has done to Jo was wrong. Of course it is blooming well wrong. It was nasty and spiteful and vindictive and almost unforgivable in its malice. Amy is made see that she needs to apologise to her sister. She goes to Jo, but Jo is not yet ready to forgive Amy, and spurns her. Totally reasonable behaviour, in my opinion. Jo is still terribly upset. She is not yet ready to forgive. Amy is not punished in any way by her mother, who carries on as usual. When bedtime comes, Jo is counselled by her mother to forgive Amy, but refuses. She still isn't ready. Grrrrrrr.
Meanwhile, the spoiled Princess is offended - much offended the book says - at being repulsed, and begins to flaunt her superior virtue. Superior virtue indeed. What she did to Jo is unforgivable, and she has not been punished in any way whatsoever by Marmee or anybody else. Amy carries on all day in this snidely arrogant way until eventually Jo decides to ask Laurie to go skating with her in the hope that her friend will help her get her act together. She, at least, is trying.
What does the horrid little brat do then? Does she stay put and think about how nasty she has been? Oh no, she tags after her sister again. When will she learn? Admittedly, she does plan to apologise again...perhaps truly, this time...but Jo doesn't know that.
When Jo discovers her younger sister has followed her, you can imagine how angry she would feel. Well, maybe I'm assuming you feel like me. I can imagine how angry she would feel. I would have been livid. So was Jo. She makes a poor decision, and doesn't inform Amy that the ice is thin in the centre of the river. Of course, Amy falls in. At last she gets her just deserts! Hurrah!
Amy is rescues by Laurie and is taken back home to be nursed by Marmee. Poor Jo is distraught, and filled with remorse. She instantly takes all the blame and is in despair. How differently she acts from the superior little minx safely asleep in her bed. She vows to do differently and to control her terrible temper, and mother and daughter have a pious little tête-à-tête over how she can do better next time. 'How could I have been so wicked?' she ponders, and is so relived when little Amy forgives and forgets.
About here I am ready to throw Little Women out the car window. This chapter makes me so mad. The sister with the character flaw in this chapter is not Jo, Ms Alcott, it is that sanctimonious brat of a child. I'm glad she fell in the river because otherwise she would have got off scot free, and that makes me see red. Where's the justice in that, I ask you?
I love Little Women, but Chapter 8 never fails to rile me in this way. It is the most aggravating chapter in the most wonderful book. I am irritated just thinking about it.
In a nicer note, has anyone seen the Japanese anime version of Little Women? It's on YouTube if you want to take a look. The whole of Chapter 8 is missing from the story. Which can only be a good thing.