Jo is described as a high-spirited character who acts like a tomboy. She hates the restrictions on girls and women at the time and longs to be with her father, who is helping soldiers during the Civil War. She is at times hot-tempered and bossy, and she likes to tell her sisters what to do and to organize their dramatic presentations. At the same time, she is capable of great love and devotion, such as to her parents and her sister Beth, and she detests her sister Meg's marriage, as it breaks up the family. The idea of marriage is at first hateful to her, as she does not like the limitations it would place on her, and she spends most of her time scribbling away and reading. She is a rather sloppy dresser who does not care about her clothes; the only physical trait she prizes is her chestnut hair, which she has cut off at one point to make money for her mother. As the book opens, Jo is fifteen, and she is described as thin and tall. She has gray eyes that are all-seeing and at times fierce, and she has a funny nose. She has long limbs that are always in motion, and she has a lot of energy.