Little Women is a well-told story that features suspense, humor, and engaging characters, as well as lessons about the importance of honesty, hard work, true love, and family unity. Brilliant in its portrayal of nineteenth-century American family life, the novel depicts a secure, placid world in which the home serves as the center for children’s religious and moral education.

In Alcott’s novel, the family-as the most important of social units-gives its members strength to overcome life’s obstacles and teaches them the value of selflessness. Mrs. March, in particular, exemplifies the courage and perseverance necessary to hold the family together through war and death. Although the novel ends happily, it in many ways marks a departure from simplistic, romantic nineteenth-century fiction for young adults. Alcott’s characters change in response to serious life-events; their positive but realistic attitudes inspire readers to identify their own strengths in the face of pain and adversity.

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