There is a venerable little old lady in the town where we live that calls my sisters and I “the Little Women” whenever we run across each other in a store or at someone’s funeral. She is very definitely referring to the March sisters of Lousia May Alcott’s well-known and well-beloved story.
Now, while I appreciate the story and enjoy the characters, Miss Alcott’s fictional sisters we are not. While we do often wear skirts and have long hair, we aren’t immediately pegged as “must be Baptist homeschoolers…” by our appearance. Now, I suspect that our appearance might have a great deal to do with this particular woman’s assessment of us, but there are a few significant ways in which my sisters and I definitely are not the March sisters.
First, the view of work. The March sisters had a servant and didn’t do much of the household work. I don’t know that either of my sisters or I have an allergy to work, as a couple of the March sisters did….
Second, the Victorian view of men and women implicitly contained in the book–we don’t believe that women are the moral compass of humanity and the only real refiners of rugged, naturally selfish (shall we say brutish?) men. Both men and women have consciences bound by the Law of God and both have very great capabilities of refinement of manners and principle–and both are fearsomely selfish by nature. (Unfortunately, both men and women in our day lack refinement and discretion due to our culture’s rejection of these virtues and its cultivation of selfishness.)
Third, we girls don’t fight among ourselves and never really have, even when we were small. First, it wasn’t much an option when we were little. Second, none of us like to have strife between us…it doesn’t go over well….
Fourth, we are part of a church community (more accurately, two local congregations, since we live in two states). The place of the church community in the March sisters lives is not there (though they were Christian)–my sisters and I are definitely a part of our local congregations.
Fifth, Victorian romanticism (small “r”) is not fostered in our home. The borderline Romantic romanticness of Meg, Jo, and Amy is not a part of our thinking–even though some of us are hopeless romantics…. The Scriptures lay out principles for true love and strong romance that far surpasses the rather involuntary and often melencholy romantic emphasis of the Victorian Era. (But that’s another topic…)
Nevertheless, it must be admitted that there we do have a few similarities with the March sisters.
One, our father is a soldier (though now retired) and he has been gone a fair share, just as Mr. March is in the first part of “Little Women”.
Two, we, as sisters, are a unit and don’t have “my friends” vs. “your friends” (though we do have particular friends…no hostility/jealousness/strife between us about them) and are devoted to one another and to our parents, like the March sisters.
Three, we have long hair and like it that way. I do not blame Jo at all for crying after she got her hair cut–I would do the same thing. Scripture doesn’t say that a woman’s glory is her hair for no reason…. (But that’s another topic, too…especially considering the way many older women interpret long hair….)
So, all in all, I don’t take this little old lady’s remarking that we remind her of the little women either offensively or as the greatest compliment in the world. I appreciate her kindness–for that is how she means it–without getting tangled up in the ways she just isn’t quite right…Lord willing, I’ll be a little old lady someday, too.