Little Men: Part II (Chapters 6 ~ 10)
I realized that it is impossible to review a classic chapter by chapter (almost) without spoiling anything. So read on your own risk.
In the sixth chapter, we meet a troubled boy of 14 years, Dan. He is a sullen boy with a hard past, I reckon, and his rough, street side of him comes out every now and then. He means well, even though he will let no one hear him say so. He’s used to scoffing at authority and ignoring rules, and after a prank too many, he is sent away, which troubles Jo much.
My heart breaks for Dan, for he is a good boy deep down, and he was so good and tender with Teddy! Anyone who loves a baby like he does can’t be a bad person within. I do understand Mr. Bhaer’s concern, though, that he is a “bad” influence for other, especially younger, boys. I do wish he will come back, like Jo believes in it.
In the chapter 7, we meet yet another new character, Annie Harding aka “Naughty Nan”. At Mrs. Bhaer’s suggestion, Plumfield welcomes her. Nan tries to be equal to the boys and does everything they dare her to. She’s wild and sassy, and also smart. I initially had trouble getting used to Nan, she’s so loud and quick!
In the next two chapters all sort of plays the children cooked up are displayed. As far as I know, Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Men (as well as Little Women) with an audience of young children (similarly aged as the young protagonists of this book) in mind, which especially shines through in these two chapters. (Personally, I found them a little bit boring and distracting. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.) You can also see that in the way Alcott writes: in easy, simple sentences that manage to pierce through your head and heart at the same time.
In the tenth chapter one of my favorite lads “comes home” (he says so) and finally a spot on his heart not yet smudged by the ugliness of the world has opened to the place he feels peaceful at. You can really see him (Dan, if it wasn’t clear) going through the changes this time, and it touched my heart. I can’t wait to see how it goes on.
Little Men is a very moral book; while there is no preacher preaching the Ten Commandments, Mrs. Jo and Mr. Fritz manage to tend to the children’s body, soul and mind so well that they integrate respectful behavior, diligence, religion, hard work and good play into their subconscious beings. I admire Mr. and Mrs. Bhaer for being so patient, kind and loving – they were meant to open a school like Plumfield, and how fortunate for them and the children that they did!