Movie Wednesday: Little Women

Movie Wednesday Little Women

by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

The March household has fallen on rough times. Mr. March is away fighting in the war, and the March sisters–Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy–along with their mother must keep themselves afloat financially while the four girls face the growing pains of transitioning into young women. Jo, a tomboy and an aspiring writer, must learn to mitigate her fiery temper as she navigates changing relationships within her family, as well as her burgeoning friendships outside the home, while she struggles to find an identity and a place in society.

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was originally published in the late 1860s in two volumes (Little Women and Good Wives), which are now sometimes sold as one book under the first title. The classic coming of age story depicting young American women was written at the behest of Alcott’s publisher who wanted her to write something for young girls. Since its publication, Little Women has enjoyed popularity among people of all ages and differing social spheres. Its themes of growing up and the struggle to find and maintain an individual identity amidst social pressures to conform struck a resonate chord with its readership which continues to echo into the present day.

The book has been adapted into many mediums, including stage and film. In 1994, it was yet again adapted to screen. Starring Winona Ryder as Jo March, it was filmed on location in Vancouver and directed by Gillian Armstrong. With beautiful cinematography and music, and special attention paid to the props and costume design to maintain the 1860s period feel, the film creates a gorgeous setting for the story of the March sisters.

Discussion Questions

  • Which of the March sisters do you identify with the most and why?
  • As with most film adaptations, the 1994 film takes some liberties with the source text. If you have read the book, how do you feel about the film as an adaptation?
  • One of Jo’s flaws that she struggles to overcome in the story is her temper. Do you think she is ever successful? Explain your answer.
  • In the book, Jo deliberately lets Amy go out on the thin ice, not really being sure if Amy heard Laurie’s warning or not, leading to her sister falling into the freezing water. This is not made nearly so plain in the film and the incident is framed as more of a true accident. How do you think this change alters Jo and the way the audience may feel about her behavior?

Additional Resources

Little Women infographic

BoomerangLearn language arts with the Little Women Boomerang!

The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 8th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

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