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The House-Band: The Education of Men in Little Women

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The House-Band: The Education of Men in Little Women

“The House-Band: The Education of Men in Little Women” by Anne Dalke discusses Auerbach’s reading of the novel. Auerbach interprets the theme of feminism in Little Women differntly than how Dalke interprets more positively views the feminism in the novel. “Reading Little Women: The Many Lives of a Text” by Barbara Sicherman also discusses the theme of feminism positively, but Dalke's focus is more narrow; Sichmerman discusses how Little Women appeals to a wide range of readers. These critical essays both discuss Little Women's feminism but focus on different aspects of the theme.

Both Dalke and Sichmerman interpret Little Women's strong theme of feminism and discuss how the novel appeals to women readers. Sicherman discusses how readers learn from characters, and Dalke discusses how the characters themselves learn from the sisters' faults and experiences. Both critics focus on Jo as the main character that the readers and other characters learn from. Sicherman discusses many groups of readers who relate to Alcott's novel, especially Jo's example of a strong woman. One group of readers is young girls. “Adolescents from diverse backgrounds can interpret Little Women as a search for personal autonomy” (635). Dalke agrees that the novel is a good example of how to be strong and independent. Dalke discusses how the first half of the story is about the sisters' burdens and how they struggle to overcome them; the second half shows how the sisters grow and learn from their faults. Further, Dalke discusses how the characters learn from each other. While Alcott does not write a story of strong women who do not have faults, she writes of women who are stronger because they overcome faults. Dalke also recognizes that the women are stronger because they redefine gender roles. For example, “Laurie is taught by the March girls how to respond to women, children, and to other men” (560). When Laurie went to visit Amy in France, Amy said Laruie was too lazy and has made no effort to improve his life. To prove Amy wrong, Laurie went out and accomplished something. Therefore, Dalke reveals Alcott used string women to make the men better. On the other hand, Laurie also “helps [the sisters] in their journey toward self-improvement” (558). For example, Meg realizes her misbehavior when Laurie disapproves of her vanity fair. The sisters learn from themselves, each other, and others; at the same time, the sisters are also inspiring strong characters to other characters and to readers.

Sicherman also recognizes that readers are inspired by Little Women, but her focus is broader. Sicherman discusses Little Women’s success, the wide appeal, and the popularity of Jo as a heroine. “Jo, always the most admired sister, was for many the only one who mattered” (635). Jo was a hero in the novel because she did not conform to society's expectations, but instead achieved

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