The character we chose to discuss is Jo March. We were mostly drawn to this young woman, since she has a passionate, stubborn, impulsive, and vivid personality. Jo has little patience and likes to see things go her own way. An example for that we can see when Amy asked her older sisters to join them and Laurie to the theater. As appose to her older sister Meg, who tried to decline her request very nicely, Jo answered impatiently to her sister, “‘don’t be a baby and whine about it”‘ (Alcott, 2004, p. 76). When Meg compromised and agreed to take Amy with them, Jo determinately stated, “‘If she goes, I shan’t'” (77). As it appears in the book, Jo not only declined her sister’s request to join them, she did it in a rude and unpleasant way; “Her tone and manner angered Amy” (77). Even though we can see Jo is impulsive, passionate, and doesn’t like to give up easily, she has a softer side to her, “Jo’s pleasure had a drop of bitterness in it: the fairy queen’s yellow curls reminded her of Amy” (77). However, it is very clear that the aggressive and hasty part of her personality dominates her, “Jo had the least self-control, and had hard times trying to curb the fiery spirit which was continually getting her into trouble” (77-78).
Jo is very aware to her actions and to the fact her behavior is sometimes wrong. She knows she should act better, but she just can’t control her temper and impulsiveness, “Poor Jo tried desperately to be good, but her bosom enemy was always ready to flame up and defeat her, and it took years of patient effort to subdue it” (78). As a result to Jo’s actions, Amy vindictively decided to burn Jo’s book, which was her pride and joy. When Jo found out about the gruesome fate of her beloved book, she lost her temper and even responded physically, “Jo’s hot temper mastered her, and she shook Amy till her teeth chattered in her head, crying in a passion of grief and anger” (79). In addition to the radical physical response, she also stated she will never forgive her sister as long as she lives, “‘You wicked, wicked girl! I never can write it again, and I’ll never forgive you as long as I live'” (79). Jo’s extreme reaction proves again how impulsive, decisive and dramatic she is, since it is very radical of her to state she is not going to speak to her sister ever again.
Amy apologized sincerely to Jo, yet she stubbornly declined, “‘I never shall forgive you’ was Jo’s stern answer, and from that moment on she ignored Amy entirely” (79). When Jo’s mother asked her to forgive her little sister, Jo wanted to express her grief but held herself from doing it, since it was a feminine and submissive thing to do, “Jo wanted to lay her head down on that motherly bosom, and cry her grief and anger all away, but tears were an unmanly weakness, and she felt so deeply injured that she really couldn’t quite forgive yet” (80). After the sisters’ dispute, Jo and Laurie went ice-skating for the last time that winter, something that Amy wished to take part in. Amy decided to join them without asking Jo’s permission and followed them. When Jo noticed Amy was there she continued to ignore her sister and even asked Laurie to join her, “‘No matter if whether she heard or not, let her take care of herself”‘ (81), referring to his warning about the thin ice. Amy, who was left behind, fell into the water where the ice crashed.
In spite of her anger and radical statement, something made Jo worry about her sister and she was the first one to notice the incident. After the initial shock, Jo got herself together and managed to control her feelings and act quickly and efficiently, “How she did it, she never knew, but for the next few minutes she worked as if possessed, blindly obeying Laurie” (81). After they managed to save Amy, Jo’s softer side was shown again; she was remorseful and blamed herself and her temper for the incident. “‘Mother, if she should die, it would be my fault.’ And Jo dropped down beside the bed in a passion of penitent tears” (82). “‘It’s my dreadful temper!'” (82). Jo came to the understanding she is impulsive and passionate, and although she would like to change it, it’s stronger than her, “‘It seems as if I could do anything when I’m in a passion; I get so savage, I could hurt anyone and enjoy it”‘ (82).
Jo asked her mother to help her overcome her nature and by her mother sharing she was once very much like her, Jo felt there is still hope for her. “She felt comforted at once by the sympathy and confidence given her. The knowledge that her mother had a fault like hers” (83). This moving dialogue between the mother and daughter proves us that despite the characteristic we discussed throughout this paper, Jo is aware of her nature and is willing to change in order to be a better person. As we can see from the text, Jo’s character is very impulsive, dramatic, and passionate. We think that part of her personality is very interesting since we can identify with those characteristics. We find it very human and natural to have these kinds of emotions, especially when you’re a teenager, and we can certainly relate to that.
Having said that, we do find her behavior a bit extreme and shocking, though she did manage to overcome her emotions when needed, something that moved us readers to see that the love between the sisters is above all. The lesson we learn from Jo’s behavior is that we must take more control on our impulsive emotions. It is easy to get mad, but as mature grownups we have to put our anger aside and learn to accept and forget. Life if full of situations that might not be like the way we planned, but being more relaxed, forgiving and accepting will make our lives much more pleasant and easier. Another lesson is that you should take things in proportions – losing her book, compared to losing her sister, made Jo realize what was really important in life.
Alcott, L. M. (2004). Little Women. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble.