Reading Comprehension Activity

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Chapter XX passage: In this passage from Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” Beth has survived her serious illness, and Marmee has gone to visit Amy who is staying with Aunt March. Students will read the passage and answer questions on the theme and the language.

Topic(s): Realistic Fiction. Skill(s): Theme, Context Clues. Genre(s): Prose

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Little Women is the story of four March sisters growing up during the Civil War. Their names are Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. As this passage begins, Beth has been seriously ill, and Amy has been sent to stay with Aunt March to avoid getting sick. Amy’s mother, Mrs. March, has come to visit Amy. Amy shows her mother the private “chapel” she has made as a calm place to think. Amy also has something else to tell her mother.


There probably were a good many happy little girls in and about the city that day, but it is my private opinion that Amy was the happiest of all, when she sat in her mother’s lap and told her trials, receiving consolation and compensation in the shape of approving smiles and fond caresses. They were alone together in the chapel, to which her mother did not object when its purpose was explained to her.

“On the contrary, I like it very much, dear,” looking from the dusty rosary to the well-worn little book, and the lovely picture with its garland of evergreen. “It is an excellent plan to have some place where we can go to be quiet, when things vex or grieve us. There are a good many hard times in this life of ours, but we can always bear them if we ask help in the right way. I think my little girl is learning this?”

“Yes, mother; and when I go home I mean to have a corner in the big closet to put my books, and the copy of that picture which I’ve tried to make. The woman’s face is not good,-it’s too beautiful for me to draw,-but the baby is done better, and I love it very much. I like to think He was a little child once, for then I don’t seem so far away, and that helps me.”

As Amy pointed to the smiling Christ-child on his mother’s knee, Mrs. March saw something on the lifted hand that made her smile. She said nothing, but Amy understood the look, and, after a minute’s pause, she added gravely,-

“I wanted to speak to you about this, but I forgot it. Aunt gave me the ring to-day; she called me to her and kissed me, and put it on my finger, and said I was a credit to her, and she’d like to keep me always. She gave that funny guard to keep the turquoise on, as it’s too big. I’d like to wear them, mother; can I?”

“They are very pretty, but I think you’re rather too young for such ornaments, Amy,” said Mrs. March, looking at the plump little hand, with the band of sky-blue stones on the forefinger, and the quaint guard, formed of two tiny, golden hands clasped together.

“I’ll try not to be vain,” said Amy. “I don’t think I like it only because it’s so pretty; but I want to wear it as the girl in the story wore her bracelet, to remind me of something.”

“Do you mean Aunt March?” asked her mother, laughing.

“No, to remind me not to be selfish.” Amy looked so earnest and sincere about it, that her mother stopped laughing, and listened respectfully to the little plan.

“I’ve thought a great deal lately about my ‘bundle of naughties,’ and being selfish is the largest one in it; so I’m going to try hard to cure it, if I can. Beth isn’t selfish, and that’s the reason every one loves her and feels so bad at the thoughts of losing her. People wouldn’t feel half so bad about me if I was sick, and I don’t deserve to have them; but I’d like to be loved and missed by a great many friends, so I’m going to try and be like Beth all I can. I’m apt to forget my resolutions; but if I had something always about me to remind me, I guess I should do better. May I try this way?”

“Yes; but I have more faith in the corner of the big closet. Wear your ring, dear, and do your best; I think you will prosper, for the sincere wish to be good is half the battle. Now I must go back to Beth. Keep up your heart, little daughter, and we will soon have you home again.”

Comprehension Questions

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