Laurie Lawlor:  Curriculum Connections

    Curriculum Connections:
    Little Women: A Story of Children

    This book was based on the screen play by for Columbia Pictures. The movie was released to theaters in 1994; the video/dvd was available in 2001.

    The film (and subsequently Lawlor's adaptation based on the screenplay) is drawn from Louisa May Alcott's classic novel about a family of women in Civil War-era New England. The focus is on the four young girls raised by their mother (Susan Sarandon) after their father leaves for battle as part of the Union Army. At the center of the March family is Jo March (Winona Ryder). Jo's goal is to be a writer -- and is a character based on Alcott herself. The film also focuses on the stories of her sisters -- Meg (Trini Alvarado) is portrayed as more conventional while the innocent Beth (Claire Danes), and the precocious Amy (Kirsten Dunst and Samantha Mathis, who represent Amy at different ages.) Many years are spanned as the story progresses. The story follows the family's struggles to remain strong in the face of tragedies large and small. The Australian director Gillian Armstrong created a focus in the story that emphasized the story's feminist elements, particularly in Jo's journey to independence.

  • After reading the book, obtain the Little Womenvideo/dvd for your classroom. View the 1 hour 58 minute video and then compare and contrast the video with Lawlor's book, and with any one of the unabridged editions of Alcott's Little Women.

    • How did the director focus on the feminist elements?
    • How did Lawlor show this same focus on the feminist elements?
    • How did this focus differ from Alcott's original text, if it did differ?
    • Did the director and actors create any additional twists on the classic story itself?
    • How closely did Lawlor's story reflect the screenplay created by Robin Swicord?
    • What other comparisons can be made?

    Little Women: A Story of Children. Adapted by Laurie Lawlor from the screenplay by Robin Swicord. Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott. (1994) Newmarket Press. ISBN: 1557042160; (1995) paperback. ISBN: 1557042527. 96 pg. Fiction.

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