By Trix Wilkins
We know he was half-Italian, exceedingly wealthy, and loved Jo desperately. Here are ten things you might not have known about Little Women’s Theodore Laurence.
He was a good writer – maybe even better than Jo!
Laurie is accepted to join the March sisters in producing their newspaper The Pickwick Portfolio, and we’re told Jo regarded his contributions as “worthy of Bacon, Milton, and Shakespeare; and remodelled her own works with good effect, she thought.”
He loved books just as much as Jo
He might not have loved study and preferred playing truant with the Marches next door to “digging,” but he loved reading! When Jo goes to visit him when he’s sick, she’s delighted to find that “he loved books as much as she.”
He wasn’t into being fashionable
Some of my favorite scenes in Little Women are proof of this! When Laurie gently tells Jo how they will manage to dance despite her burnt dress; when he tells Meg not-so-gently that he doesn’t like “fuss and feathers;” when he tells Jo, “Why mind the fashion? Wear a big hat and be comfortable!”
He wanted to settle in Germany
The March sisters and Laurie sit in the sunshine talking of their castles in the air. Laurie tells them all that in his favorite one he lives in Germany and becomes such a famous musician all the world comes to hear him (and that he doesn’t run his grandfather’s ships).
He had a flair for diplomacy
Laurie attempts to compliment Jo by telling her “I like the medicine your mother sent very much” (which goes over Jo’s head until Meg enlightens her); he eats everything less than delectable at Jo’s disastrous dinner party; the way he doesn’t brush over her feelings in asking to dance in the hallway.
He tended to be lazy (but fought it)
Who doesn’t prefer reading books, playing the piano, and rowing with friends as opposed to learning to run one’s grandfather’s ships one doesn’t have any heart for? Despite his natural inclinations, Laurie works to live up to Mrs March’s expectation that he is only wanting for “a motive.”
He played chess
I haven’t often re-read this scene, being in the chapter regarding Amy and the limes. It’s now become a favorite. Jo and Laurie are playing chess and Laurie gives Beth a compliment about her playing and composing music. Is it nerdy to play chess? Yes, but that’s why I like it.
He and Jo shared a streak to defy authority and convention
He doesn’t want to be a wealthy merchant as per the family tradition; he wants to run off with Jo in a ship to India even if she’s dressed like a boy; he notoriously plays pranks on people; he invites Jo to run off to Washington to visit her father despite its not being entirely proper.
His grandfather hadn’t liked his mother
Little Women ends and the reason for this dislike remains a mystery (other than a hint that Mr Laurence didn’t like to hear Laurie play and so we can merely infer that his mother’s being a musician had something to do with it), even though Laurie promises Jo “I’ll tell you someday.”
He was exceedingly shy until he met Jo
At the time of their first meeting, Laurie doesn’t have many friends. Jo tells him he ought to make an effort to know people (which I think rather ironic given Jo’s proclivity to avoid society, and reminiscent of Elizabeth’s speech to Darcy about practising social interactions!).