Summary of Part One Little Women tells the story of the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy as they grow from childhood to adulthood. The story is set during the Civil War times. The March girls are struggling because their father is away at war and funds are limited. Jo and Meg have to work outside from home, not only because their father is away at war but also, because he lost all of his money trying to help a friend in need. Jo works for her bitter Aunt March. Meg spends her days teaching small children as a governess.
When Jo and Meg attend a New Years party, they meet their neighbor Theodore Laurence or Laurie, as he prefers to be called. He is the grandson of their rich neighbor Mr. Laurence. Jo and Laurie established the beginning of a wonderful friendship. All the girls start visiting the Laurence home with the exception of Beth. Beth being the shy one from the sisters and afraid of Mr. Laurence decides to stay home instead. Mr. Laurence finds out that Beth is a wonderful piano player. He talks in private to Mrs. March, she helps him convince her to attend his house and play the piano in private.
Beth makes Mr. Laurence some slippers, to show him her gratitude. Mr. Laurence touched by her sincerity gives her the piano that once belonged to his sickened and departed granddaughter. From that point her and Mr. Laurence develop a special bond. Meanwhile Amy is terribly in debt with her classmates. It seems that for Amy and her classmates is a pastime to trade pickled limes. Meg gives Amy money to buy limes. She purchases 24 and proudly announces it to her classmates. When she refuses to share her limes with a classmate she gets in trouble with her teacher. He then smacks her with a ruler.
When Mrs. March finds out she then decides that is better for Amy to be taught at home. Meg is invited to a fortnight at the Moffats. She attends a party in which she is ridiculed. Laurie also attends the party and is disappointed by her behavior. At the party she also becomes aware of some gossip that is going around of her and her family. She tells her mother and her mother tells her to focus on being herself and to never mind the gossip. The girls have a secret society in. The Picwick Club was a literary formed club formed by the four girls. It featured a newsletter containing writings of the girls.
Each girl assumed a separate identity, Meg was Samuel Pickwick, Jo was Augustus Snodgrass, Beth was Tracy Tupman, and Amy was Natheniel Winkle. Jo runs into Laurie at the dentists, they both share their secrets. Jo tells him that she was there because she is trying to get her story published. Laurie then tells Jo that between his tutor, Mr. Brooke and Meg there is something going on. Jo is horrified and feels threaten by Mr. Brooke. She feels that he is going to separate her family by taking her sister away. The March family receives a telegram that Mr. March is seriously ill.
Mr. Laurence suggested that Mr. Brooke should be Mrs. Marchs escort. Jo cuts and sells her hair for $25 to help pay for her mothers trip. When Mrs. March is away Beth goes to the poor Hummel family. She discovers that the baby of the house is sick. While taking care of the baby the baby dies in her arms. The doctor tells them that the baby died of scarlet fever. The doctor sends Beth homes and orders her to take some medications. But, it is too late, Beth falls sick in bed with the scarlet fever. Laurie convinces Amy to go away to Aunt Marchs house so she wont catch the fever. Meg and Jo are left at the house to take care of Beth.
Mrs. March is sent for because Beth conditions worsen. Amy is suffering at Aunt Marchs house but she becomes a friend with Esther, the maid. She also receives a visit from her mother. When Christmas arrives, Mr. March returns to his Little Women. His girls are happy to see him but Beth is still sick, later Beth plays the piano for all of them. Meg and Jo discuss what is going on between Meg and Mr. Brooke. Meg refuses to accept Mr. Brookes marriage proposal. Aunt March tells Meg that if she accepts Mr. Brooke she will inherit nothing, which angers Meg and makes her decide that she will marry him. That puts an end to the first part of the book.
Summary of Part Two Three years have past by, Mr. March is now a minister and the entire family is awaiting Megs wedding. Beth is no longer sick but not as energetic as she use to be. Jo is pursuing her writing career, Amy has become quite the young lady, and Laurie is off at college. Meg and Mr. Brooke have purchased a house and are trying to furnish it. When they get married Mr. March acts as minister for the small wedding. Amy starts taking art classes. When she wishes to have her classmates over for lunch and realizes her family cannot support a lunch for 14 girls, she decides to pay for everything herself.
The lunch is rained on the first day and on the second, only one friend shows. She is devastated but luckily her family is there to console her. Jo starts earning money because her stories start getting published. That extra income helps pay for groceries, gowns, trips to the beach and other bills. Now, the March family starts worrying less about money issues. Meg starts learning what married life is really about. Being a housewife, is a difficult thing for her, she buys an expensive dress that her husband cant afford. Luckily her patient husband forgives her, and that only makes Meg insult him by telling him she no longer wants to be poor.
They work out their problems and have wonderful twins, Daisy and Demi. A fair is thrown to show off the artistic abilities the girls from Amys have. One of Amys classmates and daughter of one of the organizers, shares with her mother, how jealous she is of Amy and her talent. They both arrange for Amys table to be in a faraway in a corner. Fortunately, Jo convinces Laurie and his friends to attend the party and buy Amys work. Aunt March decides send Amy to Europe instead of Jo. That saddens Jo but makes Beth happy because her favorite sister is staying home.
Amy writes several letters to her family, telling them how much she is enjoying herself in Europe. In a very private letter to her mother, she tells her that she ran into Fred, a friend of Lauries and that he has asked for her love. She also tells her mother that she wouldnt hesitate to accept him as her husband, so like that the family would have a good marriage, unlike Meg marrying a poor man. Mrs. March notices that Beth seems sad, so she asks Jo to find out. When Jo talks to her she assumes that Beth is in love with Laurie and that she fears he will reject her because he is so in love with Jo.
Believing that, Jo decides to leave for awhile to New York. She felt that by doing so, would improve her writing skills and it would give Laurie time to forget about her. When she gets to New York and stays in Mrs. Kirkes boarding house she meets Professor Friedrich Bhaer. Mr. Baher starts teaching Jo some German, from there a very good friendship starts developing. Jo starts writing and takes one of her stories to a newspaper. When they get back to her she realizes that they have completely changed her story, but she agrees to it because they give her $25. 00 for it.
She continues to write great stories for the paper but refuses to have her name attached to any of them. In a conversation she has with Mr. Baher he tells her about a wonderful story he read, she feels relieved because the story wasnt hers, after that conversation she decides to stop writing for the paper. Jo returns home for the summer hoping Laurie has forgotten about her. When she finds out that, that is not the case she talks to him and lets him know that she will never fall in love or marry him. Laurie broken hearted leaves to Europe with his grandfather. Beth is still upset, so Jo takes her to the beach to lift up her spirits.
Beth then shares her secret with Jo. She tells her that she is fragile and going to die, hopping Jo will tell their parents. When, they arrive home there is no need for Jo to tell her parents because its clear from looking at Beth that her time is near. Laurie meets up with Amy in Europe, they both start getting to know each other all over again. The two attend a Christmas party and Laurie fills her book with his name for dances. The two of them start seeing each other with different eyes. Meg starts ignoring Mr. Brooke because she is using all of the time with the twins. He starts spending a great deal of time with the neighbors.
At first she feels great because he being away gives her more time with the twins, eventually she starts to miss him and talks to her mother about it. Her mother tells her that she should let him help her with the raising of their children. Meg agrees and that saves her marriage. Laurie is being lazy and that gets Amys attention. When she sees him looking at a ring Jo gave him, she knows Jo is the reason for his sadness. She talks to him and convinces him to get his life back on track. A special room is prepared for Beth so that she can spend her last days surrounded by beautiful things and wonderful people.
Jo keeps a close watch over her sister and writes a special poem entitled, Beth. When Beth reads the poem she is pleased for causing such a good impression on people. She then feels her time has come and she dies in her mothers arms. When Amy hears about her sisters death she wishes to return home, her family advises her to stay in Europe an morn Beths death from there. She calls for Laurie and he rushes to be at her side. The two grow very fond of each other and love blossoms between the both of them. While in a rowing trip the two share each other feelings for one another.
Jo tries to get over her favorite sisters death. The family hears of Amys engagement with Laurie and fear that Jo might be upset by the news but when she finds out she couldnt be happier. It does make her fear that she will grow up to be alone. She starts remembering how much fun she had with Mr. Bhaer and begins to realize how much she misses him. On the day Amy and Laurie return and the family is reunited, Jo is also surprised to find Professor Bhaer at the front door. She invites him in and he shares with her that he will be in town for a few days on business.
Jo starts going on long walks, hopping to see Mr. Bhaer. Jo is also starts spending time with Megs twins. Daisy and Demi suddenly get sadden by the fact that Mr. Bhaer starts taking Jo away from them. Jo spends plenty of time with him, fearing that he will leave her when his business trip ends. Professor Bhaer notices how upset the news of him leaving makes Jo and they both share their feelings for one another. He asks for her hand in marriage and Jo feels that she has finally found happiness in her life. When Aunt March dies she leaves her house to Jo. Overjoyed with her aunts generosity she feels that she has to do something useful with it.
Professor Bhaer and Jo convirt the home into a school for boys, where Mr. Bhaer starts teaching. The home would provide a place for both rich and poor boys so that each can learn and grow in a giving enviroment. Eventually the Professor and Jo have two boys of their own, Rob and Teddy. She also has a daughter named Beth. Beth just like her aunt is constantly sick and worrying Jo. At the annual apple-picking at Plumfield, the family celebrates the sixtieth birthday of Mrs. March. The family gave thanks for having one another and the novel closes.