Little Women: Do you believe that Laurie was "meant for Jo"?

In any serious discussion of Little Women, this matter is usually called into question. “How could Laurie marry Amy? Everyone KNOWS he was meant for Jo!” “No, Amy was more suited to him, and anyway, she did all right with that German guy!”

I am firmly pro-Amy on this. First of all, it’s generally accepted nowadays that lifelong friends don’t always make good marriage partners. Laurie and Jo would not have been compatible in the long run: their temperaments were too similar, and Jo was so determined to be bohemian, she would never have been content being Mrs. Richguy.

Second, I resent the implication that Jo “got stuck with” or “didn’t do too badly” with Friedrich. He was a sweetheart, and they were ideal for each other. I still can’t read the scene where he declares himself without tearing up.

And third, I think Amy just gets short shrift in general. I’m inclined to identify with her because we’re both “youngests”, and I think a lot of readers’ scorn for her is just playa-hating. She’s the pretty one, and the artist, and gets to go to Europe, so she must be a nineteenth-century Heather, right? Wrong! She had no less depth than Jo, and her subtle, ladylike approach is not to be taken lightly. Like the scene in Europe, after Jo has turned Laurie down, where she draws two sketches of him. “This is as you were—” drawing of him reining in a wild horse, alive with youth and vigor “And this is as you are—” drawing of him, quite simply, brooding.

That’s my opinion, anyway. So what d’y’all think?

I agree with your assessment. I was a little shocked at first when he fell in love with Amy, but it was clear to me that they were actually in love and very happy and if that’s the case then how could he be “meant” for Jo?

I think Laurie and Jo would have been unhappy together. Jo needs Mr. Baer to bring out her softer side, and Laurie needs Amy to inspire him to improve his manners and refinement.

Mr. Baer sometimes seems very paternal toward Jo even though he obviously loves her and she him. I guess it’s a very, very different relationship than the one that we see her develop with Laurie, when it still seems like they will get together. But it seems to work for Jo. I think she’s modelling off her parents’ marriage a bit. She wants to manage her anger, keep her temper in check, and she sees ‘wise teacher’ as one of the roles her husband will have to play. Laurie couldn’t do that. She was always having to be the prudent one for both of them.

As for Amy and Laurie - I don’t think he really ‘sees’ Amy until he sees her out of context in Europe. She was a child in manners when they first met and it takes a bit of adjustment for him to do justice to her as a woman. And again, she has a way of complementing his hot-headedness that I think is good for him. He definitely becomes less larrikinish in his behaviour once they settle down and marry. She’s someone who needs him to be the true gentleman he was brought up to be.

I think these two marriages especially work in the context of LM Alcott’s moral judgments about what men and women should be to each other (helpmeets, and bringing out the best and strongest) and her values that even though Jo is strong and sturdy she should be sweet and womanly not boyish. I don’t buy that in the 21st century, but in Alcott’s particular moral universe it makes perfect sense.

I think you’re right, I agree with everything you wrote! I love Freidrich. He’s kind, intelligent and wise. I think Jo was a lucky woman when she met him.

I always identified myself with Jo. I had the same temper problems she had, the same impatience and hurry. I even took the same promises she did to control my temper. My hair is even the same color, for Og’s sake.

I loved the big German guy, and I’ve found myself a similar guy. Not physically, but also slightly fatherly toward me when I need it, and very kind and patient.

No, I don’t think Laurie would have been good for her. Laurie and Amy were perfect together - fine, elegant, sophisticated. I just feel sorry that the book closes on their sickly little babe. (Never read any of the follow-ups).

When you read it when you are young you are angry that Laurie and Jo don’t end up together. Laurie is everything your romantic ideas hold to. Boy next door. Rich. Handsome. And, of course, you are Jo.

Later you discover the guy wearing the leather jacket and riding the motorcycle doesn’t always make the best husband. That first loves are tender, but sometimes the second (or fifth) is even better. That there is more to love than your spouse being rich and handsome. That there is something just as charming about the boy next door realizing the kid sister is a woman. And then you realize that the book should end the way it ends.

Even though I think Laurie and Amy work, and that it’s “right,” and I have no problem with Jo not ending up with Laurie, I just never liked Baer at all. Not in Little Women, not in the sequels. I just don’t think he’s ideal for her. It always felt like she kind of got stuck with the guy - maybe that’s a sign of my own immaturity.

When I was younger and first read Little Women, I wouldn’t have agreed with the OP at all. Of course, I was only about 11 or so a the time, maybe younger. My idea of romance was “handsome young man + heroine = perfect couple”.

However, now that older (23), I realize that that is not always the case. Reading the book just several years ago, I found myself thinking how stupid I was to think that, and how little I actually knew about relationships. I think they both work - Amy and Laurie both want the same lifestyle, the same kinds of things, and they have more similar personalities.

Many people, IMHO, just want Jo and Laurie to be together because the LOVE Jo and Laurie individually. But, as we who have tried to set friends up with each other know, just because you love both of them doesn’t mean they will love each other. Jo and Laurie were just too different - the would have fought about everything, and I think would have had a horrible marriage.

Also, I loved Baer as I got older. He’s more of man, a fatherly figure, whereas Laurie would have been somebody Jo had to take care of all the time.