Jo, Friedrich and Adaptive Attractiveness

Podcast Transcript Part 5

Here is a quote from Louisa´s diary from 1874. She has received a letter from May who has written about her married life.

“Happy letters from May, who is enjoying life as one can but once” Then with a sudden vision of her own lonely lot, she exclaims: “How different our lives are just now. I so lonely, and sick and she so happy and blest. She always had the cream of things and deserved it. My time is yet to come somewhere else when I am ready for it”.

Not only is she incredibly lonely, but she also envies her sister's marital happiness and wishes that she would have a partner. What puzzles me is that this information has been out there for a very long time. These letters are in May Alcott´s biography by Caroline Ticknor and it was published in the 1920s.

Here is a quote from Little Women, Chapter All Alone

It is so beautiful to be loved as Laurie loves me; he isnt´sentimental, doesn´t say much about it, but I see and feel it in all he said and does and it makes e so happy and so humble, that I don´t seem to be the same girl I was. I never knew how good and generous and tender he was till now, for he lets me read his heart and I find it full of noble impulses, and hopes and purposes, and am so proud to know it´s mine. He says he feels as if he could make a prosperous voyage now with me abroad as mate, and lots of love for ballast. I pray he may and try to be all believes me, for I love my gallant captain with all my heart, and soul and might, and never will desert him, while God lets us be together. Oh mother, I never knew how much like heaven this world could be, when two people love and live for one another!”

and that´s our cool, reserved worldly Amy! Truly love does work miracles. How very very happy they must be!” and Jo laid the rustling sheets together with a careful hand, as one might shut the covers of a lovely romance, which holds the reader fast till the end comes, and he finds himself alone in the work-a-day world again.

By and by, Jo roamed away upstairs, for it was rainy and she could not walk. A restless spirit possessed her and the old feeling came again, not bitter as it once was, but a sorrowfully patient wonder why one sister should have all she asked, the other nothing. It was not true, she knew that and tried to put it away, but the natural craving for affection was strong, and Amy’s happiness woke the hungry longing for someone to ‘love with heart and soul, and cling to while God let them be together. Up in the garret, where Jo’s unquiet wanderings ended stood four little wooden chests in a row, each marked with its owner's name, and each filled with relics of the childhood and girlhood ended now for all. Jo glanced into them, and when she came to her own, leaned her chin on the edge, and stared absently at the chaotic collection, till a bundle of old exercise books caught her eye. She drew them out, turned them over, and relived that pleasant winter at kind Mrs. Kirke’s. She had smiled at first, then she looked thoughtful, next sad, and when she came to a little message written in the Professor’s hand, her lips began to tremble, the books slid out of her lap, and she sat looking at the friendly words, as they took a new meaning, and touched a tender spot in her heart.

“Wait for me, my friend. I may be a little late, but I shall surely come.”

“Oh, if he only would! So kind, so good, so patient with me always, my dear old Fritz. I didn’t value him half enough when I had him, but now how I should love to see him, for everyone seems going away from me, and I’m all alone.”
And holding the little paper fast, as if it were a promise yet to be fulfilled, Jo laid her head down on a comfortable rag bag, and cried, as if in opposition to the rain pattering on the roof.

Was it all self-pity, loneliness, or low spirits? Or was it the waking up of a sentiment which had bided its time as patiently as its inspirer? Who shall say?

After reading that letter, how can anyone say that Amy didn´t love Laurie. The book was written earlier than May´s letter, but as you can see the feelings that Jo is going through are very similar to Louisa, the way she felt alone reading about her sister being happily married and as you can see Jo and Friedrich in the book they parted as friends, and what the heck was that scene Greta Gerwig´s film of Jo wanting Laurie to take her back. How many Jo and Laurie confirmation biases will be born out of that?

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Illustrator, writer and a folklorist. Likes cats, tea and period dramas. Currently writing a book about Finnish mythology. A host of the Little Women Podcast.

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