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280 pages, Paperback
First published March 3, 2005
Set during the Civil War, MARCH is filled with slavery's abominable cruelties that test a man's faith in humanity and unmask shortcomings that haunt him during a life threatening illness.
As the father in Alcott's Little Women this 2006 Pultizer Prize winner depicts Mr. March's tumultuous life during wartime with only bits of connection to his family, but is a great read nonetheless.
"I am not alone in this. I only let him do to me what men have ever done to women: march off to empty glory and hollow acclaim and leave us behind to pick up the pieces. The broken cities, the burned barns, the innocent injured beasts, the ruined bodies of the boys we bore and the men we lay with.
The waste of it. I sit here, and I look at him, and it is as if a hundred women sit beside me: the revolutionary farm wife, the English peasant woman, the Spartan mother-'Come back with your shield or on it,' she cried, because that was what she was expected to cry. And then she leaned across the broken body of her son and the words turned to dust in her throat."
“Standing one on either side, they half patted, half held her, as one would both soothe and restrain a lunging, growling dog.”
“The intemperance of her attack left me breathless. Angry women generally cannot be said to show to advantage, and to see that lovely face so distorted by such a scowl as it now wore was immensely shocking to me. Who could have imagined this gently bred young woman to be so entirely bereft of the powers of self-government? I had never seen such an outburst, not even from a market wife.”
“At such times I thought I would rather live in the midst of a crashing thunderhead than with this Fury of a wife.”
“'It is you,' I said, trying to keep my voice even, though my pulse beat in my head. 'It is you who degrade yourself, when you forgo self-mastery.'”
Daylight. Still, at last. Underneath me, leaves. Above, a blur of branches. My eyes focused on a single leaf, turned before its time. Scarlet and gold. The color throbbed against a sky of brilliant blue. All that beauty. That immensity. And it will exist, even when I am not here to look at it. Marmee will see it, still. And my little women. That, I suppose, is the meaning of grace. Grace.
…I had come in stages to a different belief about how one should be in this life. I now felt convinced that the greater part of a man’s duty consists in abstaining from much that he is in the habit of consuming…None in our household ate meat but now we learned to do without milk and cheese also, for why should the calf be deprived of its mother’s milk? Further, we found that by limiting our own consumption to two meals a day, we were able to set aside a basket of provisions from which the girls were able to exact a pleasure far greater than sating an animal appetite. Once a week they carried the fruits of their sacrifice as a gift to a destitute brood of German immigrants.I laughed to read this, for the sincerity of the father must be the disappointment of the daughters.