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Chapter 8: Jo Meets Apollyon
Laurie has invited Jo and Meg to go with him to the theater to see The Seven Castles of Diamond Lake. When Amy finds out where they are going, she begs to be taken along. Meg would relent, but Jo refuses, saying that Amy wasn’t invited, and that it would not be fair to Laurie to bring along an unexpected person.
Amy takes revenge on Jo by burning a book of stories she has been laboring over. Jo is outraged, and in spite of Amy’s plea for forgiveness, vows never to forgive her. The following day, Jo is still angry, and the rest of the family are in equally sour moods, so she decides to go ice skating with Laurie as a way to put herself "to rights." Amy follows, wanting to join them, but Jo tells her to go back, then ignores her. Amy continues to follow, but is too far back to hear a warning about thin ice in the middle of the lake. She skates out and falls through the ice.
Laurie and Jo rescue Amy and get her home safely. Amy is none the worse for her experience, but Jo is properly chastened, realizing that if Amy had died, she would have blamed herself all her life. Jo and Marmee discuss Jo’s bad temper and Marmee confides that a bad temper was once her own fault, but that she learned to control it. Jo determines to work harder on hers and asks for her mother’s help.
Marmee’s former bad temper is hardly believable as she seems to have no temper at all. She gives credit to her husband for "teaching" her to control her anger and overcome her failures. Mr. March is introduced via description; Marmee describes him as a man who "never loses patience, never doubts or complains, but always hopes and works and waits so cheerfully, that one is ashamed to do otherwise before him." This statement reflects the way LMA had been taught to regard her own father, but belies the action of both her own real life and of the novel. Mr. March is like an icon, someone to uphold and revere, someone to seek out for advice, but a truly helpless individual in any practical sense. If he were actually so positive and hopeful after losing his own fortune, why does he leave a family of five women to fend entirely for themselves while he does a "noble" thing for the war effort. Mr. March is truly aggravating in absentia.