Little Women: Umbrella Identification of Selves

Niina Pekantytär

Shared looks were a big part of courting. When Jo comes to the realization that Friedrich has truly come to court her, Jo flushes. She becomes fully self-aware and she is quite pleased and thrilled by the idea. Then we get into the third and the most important part of 19th-century courtship. Identification of selves, mutual recognition of one another. Which in Little Women is the umbrella. Courting is usually rushed in films. Friedrich in fact visits the Marches for two weeks and during all this time he is hoping to see signs of love from Jo. ”For a fourth-night professor came and went with a lover like regularity”. Then he stayed away for three whole days and made no signs for proceeding, which caused everybody to look sober and Jo to become pensive at first, and then alas for romance, very cross”.

The idea of losing Friedrich has become petrifying. She goes to the German block to look for him, but he is nowhere to be found. It starts to rain and Jo is ready to burst into tears and then he is there. ”I feel to know the strong-minded lady who goes so bravely under many horse-noses and so fast through much muss. What do you do down here my friend?” ”I´m shopping” Mr Bhaer smiled, as he glanced from the pickle factory on one side to the wholesale hide and letter concern on the other, but to her, he only said politely. ”You have no umbrella, may I go also and take for you the bundles”. ”Yes, thank you”. Jo´s cheeks were as red as a ribbon, and she wondered what he thought of her but she didn´t care for in a minute, she found herself walking away arm in arm with her professor.

Feeling as if the sun had suddenly burst out with uncommon brilliancy that the world was alright again and that one truly happy woman was basking through the wet that day. Jo doesn´t have lots of experiences with men, so it makes sense that she is quite clumsy and awkward around him. In an earlier version of the script of Greta Gerwig´s film, Jo actually pulled down a chair when Fritz came to visit and he fixed it in a very calm manner. At least they included the part of Jo, setting herself on fire, and the viewer finds out that Friedrich was just as clumsy. ”We thought you had gone,” said Jo hasty, for she knew he was looking at her. Bonnet wasn´t big enough to hide her face and she feared he might think the joy of it betrayed unmaidenly. Once again Jo flushes and she is very aware of his presence. The sharing of the interior lives happens while trying to interpret the other person's tone and voice and gestures. When Friedrich tells her about the new job and that he can now provide a better home for his nephews Jo is encouraged by the prospects.

”Indeed you should. How splendid it will be to have you doing what you like and be able to see you often and the boys,” said Jo clinging to the lads as an excuse for the satisfaction. She could not help betraying. ”Ach, but we shall not meet often I fear, this place is at the west”. ”So far away” and Jo let her skirts to their faith”, as if did not matter now what became of her clothes, or herself.

Mr Bhaer could read several languages, but he had not learned how to read women yet. He flattered himself that he knew Jo pretty well and was therefore much amazed by the contradictions of voice, face and manner. Which she showed him in rapid succession that day. For she was in half-dozen different moods in the course of half an hour. When she met him she looked surprised, though it was impossible not to suspect that she had come for that express purpose. When he offered her his arm, she took it with a look that filled him with delight but when he asked if she missed him, she gave such chilly formal reply that the despair fell upon him, but learning his good fortune she almost clapped her hands. Was the joy all for the boys? Then on hearing his destination, she said ”so far away” in a tone of despair that lifted him onto a pinnacle of hope but the next minute, she stumbled him down again, by serving like entirely absorbent in the matter.

The narrator points out the difficulties, of the mute courting, the narration of love. How to verbalize it through non-verbal clues.

Comments / 0

Published by

Folklorist and historian. Alcott essayist. A host of the Little Women Podcast.

Finland, MN

More from Niina Pekantytär

Comments / 0