Little Women: Questions for Thought and Discussion

  1. Do you think the traditional “little women” roles celebrated in Louisa May Alcott’s classic are outdated in today’s society? What ideals do you believe are timeless?
  2. What character traits do you feel the sisters learned from Marmee? Mr. March?
  3. In what ways did Mr. March’s absence shape the girls’ behaviors and aspirations? Do you draw similar inspiration from anyone in your life?
  4. Who is your favorite character in Little Women, and why? Which character do you most identify with, and why?
  5. In Chapter One, Marmee reads a letter from Mr. March in which he exhorts the girls to “fight their bosom enemies bravely.” For Jo, her enemy was her temper; for Amy, it was her vanity. What would you consider to be your own bosom enemy? Have you discovered a way to manage it?
  6. Although the narrator is able to offer insight from each of the main characters, Jo’s voice rings above the others throughout the pages. How do you think the novel would differ if a sister other than Jo was the central character?
  7. When Jo takes Beth to the seashore for one last visit before the younger sister dies, Beth compares each of the four March sisters to birds—Jo is strong and untamed like a gull, Meg is a turtledove, which represents love, Amy is a beautiful and lively lark, while she herself is a peep, a bird that stays close to the shore. Do you think Beth’s comparisons were accurate? If you compared yourself to a bird, what species would you be?
  8. Were you disappointed that Jo did not marry Laurie? Or do you think Professor Bhaer was better suited for her? Why?
  9. The complexities of sibling relationships—a jumble of childhood games, petty squabbles, family traditions, deep frustrations, and fierce loyalty—play out on every page of the novel. What moments best or most precisely illustrate the bonds between sisters?
  10. What scenes from Little Women linger in your mind long after you have closed the book?