Meg is the eldest of the four girls. Seventeen as the book opens, she is drawn to domestic affairs and feels rewarded when she is able to please those around her. The second eldest of the four March sisters, Jo is independent, tempestuous, vivacious, clever, and self-confident. She is sixteen when the story opens, and she has no desire to get married, preferring the happy and satisfying life she enjoys with her family. Beth is the second youngest of the March girls. She is fourteen as the story opens, and she is painfully shy and withdrawn. Amy is the youngest of the March girls and is twelve at the beginning of the novel.