I grew up reading Little Women and my favorite character was Amy March – the oft-derided, much unloved (and later – when she married Laurie, the extremely despised) sister. The least popular of the quartet. She wasn’t a tomboy like Jo, she wasn’t “the beautiful one” like Meg, she didn’t possess Beth’s ease of selflessness. She was headstrong, feminine, concerned with propriety – the princess of the quartet. Proper and prissy. It didn’t matter that she was no less kind and helpful than the others. No one liked Amy. Except me. (And Laurie, unfortunately for all the fans. Sorry.)
The truth, realized much later in life (as it tends to be) is that I am more of a Jo than an Amy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still with all my girlish heart idolize her. Whenever I am feeling particularly ungraceful or awful, I ask myself “What would Amy March Do?”
From the chapter Consequences one of my favorite Amy March moments and a constant lesson in times of turmoil:
“Because they are mean is no reason why I should be. I hate such things, and though I think I’ve a right to be hurt, I don’t intend to show it. They will feel that more than angry speeches or huffy actions, won’t they, Marmee?”
“In spite of various very natural temptations to resent and retaliate, Amy adhered to her resolution all the next day, bent on conquering her enemy by kindness. She began well, thanks to a silent reminder that came to her unexpectedly, but most opportunely. As she arranged her table that morning, while the little girls were in the anteroom filling the baskets, she took up her pet production, a little book, the antique cover of which her father had found among his treasures, and in which on leaves of vellum she had beautifully illuminated different texts. As she turned the pages rich in dainty devices with very pardonable pride, her eye fell upon one verse that made her stop and think. Framed in a brilliant scrollwork of scarlet, blue and gold, with little spirits of good will helping one another up and down among the thorns and flowers, were the words, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
“I ought, but I don’t,” thought Amy, as her eye went from the bright page to May’s discontented face behind the big vases, that could not hide the vacancies her pretty work had once filled. Amy stood a minute, turning the leaves in her hand, reading on each some sweet rebuke for all heartburnings and uncharitableness of spirit. Many wise and true sermons are preached us every day by unconscious ministers in street, school, office, or home. Even a fair table may become a pulpit, if it can offer the good and helpful words which are never out of season. Amy’s conscience preached her a little sermon from that text, then and there, and she did what many of us do not always do, took the sermon to heart, and straightway put it in practice.”
I ought, but I don’t.