Little Women is the story of four girls that were growing up during the American Civil War. Each of the girls, all sisters, has different personality traits and characteristics that are developed throughout the book. Meg, the oldest, is the sensible sister, while Jo is tomboyish and independent. Beth is musical and shy and finally, Amy, the youngest, is the most materialistic of the four. The girls grew up in a very close family and strived to support each other in their dreams. Throughout the book, the girls' love for each other is strong, as they face the different challenges and joys of growing up.
Jo March finds the restrictions of being a woman in her time almost unbearable. She is a feminist who wants to dress like a boy, to have the freedom that men do, and to think for herself.
Even though Jo, as a woman, has talents and abilities and is more than a person that must be trained to be a wife and mother, she is convinced (by society) that only men have the freedom to decide what they become in their adulthood. Jo believes this because throughout much of the history of Western civilization, deep-rooted cultural beliefs allow women only limited roles in society. Many people believed that women's natural roles were as mothers and wives. These people considered women to be better as mothers and wives rather than as anything else. Widespread belief that women were intellectually inferior to men led most societies to limit women's education to learning domestic skills. In contrast to what her other sisters (and most women of the time) think about womanhood, Jo does not want to grow up to be a mother devoted to her husband and children like every woman in that time is expected to be. She has dreams about becoming a writer and the thought of not being able to be so because of her sexuality is terrifying to her "I hate to think I've got to grow up and be Miss March, and wear long gowns, and look as prim as a China aster (4).