Little Men, or Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boys is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott, first published in 1871. The novel reprises characters from Little Women and is considered by some the second book of an unofficial Little Women trilogy, which is completed with Alcott's 1886 novel... read more
Little Men follows the life of Jo Bhaer and the students who live and learn at Plumfield School that she runs with her husband, Professor Bhaer. Jo inherited the estate from her Aunt March. The mischievous children, whom she loves and cares for as her own, learn valuable lessons as they grow... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Little Men follows the life of Jo Bhaer and the students who live and learn at Plumfield School that she runs with her husband, Professor Bhaer. Jo inherited the estate from her Aunt March. The mischievous children, whom she loves and cares for as her own, learn valuable lessons as they grow to adulthood. While the story focuses mainly on Jo, her husband and the pupils, characters from "Little Women" continue to appear. Meg is now married to John Brooke, with twins at the school; Amy is married to Laurie, and occasionally visits with her small daughter, though Laurie makes more regular appearances.
The story begins with the arrival of Nathaniel "Nat" Blake, a shy young orphan with a talent for playing the violin and a penchant for telling fibs. Through his eyes we are introduced to the majority of the characters, from the Bhaers' children to other classmates. We follow Nat's life from April through Thanksgiving, meeting new students and playing games and having adventures throughout.
Nat is the twelfth boy to arrive at the school, though the twelve include Jo's own sons Rob and Teddy, who are significantly younger than the others and do not attend formal lessons (Dick and Adolphus, known as Dolly, are eight years old; Professor Bhaer's nephew Franz is sixteen). Franz's younger brother Emil is also at the school, and so are Meg's twins, Daisy and Demi.
Nat realises immediately that the school is not run on conventional lines, as he arrives during the Saturday night pillow-fight, which Mrs Bhaer not only permits but even joins. All the children have their own gardens and their own pets, and spend time on these as well as in regular lessons. Discipline is also unusual; Nat is ordered to strike Professor Bhaer's hand with the cane, rather than being caned himself, as a punishment for telling lies.
There are two further new arrivals shortly afterwards, both of which significantly alter the character of the school. The Bhaers are concerned that Daisy, the only girl (except for the occasional visits from Laurie and Amy's tiny daughter Bess) is regularly left out by the boys. Jo and Laurie set up a miniature kitchen for her, but this is time-consuming for Jo and does not provide her with companionship. They therefore decide to make the school more co-educational and to invite Annie (Nan) to join them. Nan is a tomboy after Jo's own heart and becomes friends equally, though very differently, with prim Daisy Brooke and chaotic Tommy Bangs.
The other new student is introduced by Nat himself, who believes that the school will manage to accept and reform his rough-mannered friend. Dan, however, decides the other boys are "molly-coddles" and leads them in experiments with fighting, drinking, smoking, swearing and playing cards, which results in his being temporarily removed from the school. He returns eventually with an injured foot, and redeems himself by standing up for Nat when Nat is falsely accused of theft by the other boys. He also becomes curator of the school's natural history museum.
Each student has his or her own struggles: Nat lies; Demi, although adored by his mother and sister, is so naïve that he finds it hard to live in the real world, but swears that he will be like 'papa' after John Brooke (Meg's husband) dies; Emil has a bad temper; Dan is rebellious and rude; Tommy is careless (and once sets the house afire); Annie alias Nan is too tomboyish; Daisy is too prim and even weak-willed etc. They all learn to cope with their faults as they grow into young men and women.
“Now, my lads, get off as quietly as you can, for Rob is safely out of the way, and won't see you," said Mrs. Bhaer, as she tied Daisy's broad-brimmed hat, and settled the great blue pinafore in which she had enveloped Nan. But the plan did not succeed, for Rob had heard the bustle, decided to go, and prepared himself, without a thought of disappointment. The troop was just getting under way when the little man came marching downstairs with his best hat on, a bright tin pail in his hand, and a face beaming with satisfaction. "Oh, dear! now we shall have a scene," sighed Mrs. Bhaer,”
“"I don't, I never cry, no matter how I'm hurt; it's babyish,"”Nan
“One cause of this welcome calm was a visit from little Bess, whose parents lent her for a week while they were away with Grandpa Laurence, who was poorly. The boys regarded Goldilocks as a mixture of child, angel, and fairy, for she was a lovely little creature, and the golden hair which she inherited from her blonde mamma enveloped her like a shining veil, behind which she smiled upon her worshippers when gracious, and hid herself when offended. Her father would not have”Narrator
“"No, I tarn't love him; he tut the poor mouses' little tails off,”All the children
2. The Boys
5. Patty Pans
6. A Firebrand
7. Naughty Nan
8. Pranks and Plays
9. Daisy's Ball
10. Home Again
11. Uncle Teddy
14. Damon and Pythias
15. In the Willow
16. Taming the Colt
17. Composition Day
19. John Brooke
20. Round the Fire
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