Although Critics Have frequently observed that Louisa May Alcott's enormously popular Little Women (1868) is a novel of education, they have not addressed just how much this is a consumer education. This essay tackles the question by placing the novel at the intersection of Victorian religious and consumer cultures. It argues that Little Women engages the emerging “spirit of modern consumerism” through traditional moral discourse, particularly Protestantism and its romantic/sentimental descendants. For not only does the book trace its young heroines' progress toward “little womanhood,” but it sets many of their ethical challenges in a Victorian “Vanity Fair.” And, much as in Bunyan's original Pilgrim's Progress, those challenges are often temptations to idolatrous materialism. In the Protestant imagination, such idolatry found crucial expression in the Roman Catholic interpretation of the sacraments. For the Protestant, the communion bread and wine were merely symbols of divine grace, a grace that only God could confer. For the Catholic, they were the transubstantiated body and blood of Christ Himself, and therefore possessed salvific power. In Little Women, this anxiety about the proper interpretation of the sacraments becomes anxiety about the proper use of material objects and the qualities they signify. Here the Catholic's belief that the consecrated host could confer grace and transform the spirit threatens Protestant integrity in a new guise, as the modern consumer's faith that fashionable goods can construct identity and deliver happiness.