I love how the girls in Little Women patiently submit to their lots in life with zest, enthusiasm and obedience. Trials stemming from rebelliousness are temporary and soon ended with a kind word from "Marmee."
There should be a personality test for women in which you are identified as a Meg (bustling, domestic, motherly, likes nice things but is willing to sacrifice, proper, musical); a Jo (rebellious, rough, tomboy, restless, literary, unconventional); a Beth (charitable to a fault, kind always, still, faithful, also musical) or an Amy (elegant, tactful, artistic, the center of her social circle).
I've always most identified with Jo, though in some ways the above description isn't necessarily self-fitting. On a recent reading, Jo's main character trait that stands out to me is her restlessness. What suspends belief is that when she is married and more or less settled with her old professor and a houseful of boys is that all restlessness ends for her: maybe the houseful of boys was enough movement for her. Or not. Alcott herself was pretty much Jo, though she never married. The last chapter of her novel reads like her own castle in the air that isn't really grounded in reality. I can almost see Alcott in the garrett of smallish home, writing her prose and pining away for a man who would never come. Her father was a great friend to Thoreau: perhaps he was her ideal man in the way the professor was to Jo.
I am very restless this week. As we plan our annual pilgrimage to Utah, during which Plantboy and Jedi Knight are going to take an awesome canoeing trip, I cannot help but think that women spend a lot of time standing still while men get to move. And I am still having trouble learning to be still. I know that some of it is situational--my kids are still quite young--but it doesn't change things a whole lot. And we train them from a very young age to think this way: our girls go to Girl's Camp for long afternoons of crafts, a few water games, lots of cooking lessons and touchy-feely self-esteem boosting type activities. The teenage boys? They left this morning for a 50 mile backpack trip this week. In my mind it should be pretty clear which type of activity is more character-building, and yet we persist in defining kids almost wholly by their sex.
Oh, I am so restless. Graduate school this summer was very easy as I took an introduction class. Maybe as the challenges arise in the fall I won't feel like my spirit is trying to crawl out of my skin.