Jo sees herself as the "man" of the family while her father is at war. She is a talented writer who is eventually able to help support the family with her earnings. She balks about being forced to follow conventional behavior and sometimes gets into trouble because she speaks before she thinks. Jo's worst fault is a hot temper.
Margaret (Meg) March is 16 at the beginning of the novel. Meg sometimes steps up to instruct her younger siblings. She is a beautiful girl who can remember when the family was prosperous, and she pines for better days. Meg's worst fault is that she can sometimes be vain.
Amy March is a pretty child with a talent for drawing. Amy is 12 at the beginning of the novel. She is a spoiled child, and her greatest fault is selfishness. Amy is the opposite of Jo in that she cares about appearances and aspires to be a refined lady.
Elizabeth (Beth) March is 13 at the beginning of the novel and is the family favorite. Beth is a sweet and kind homebody with a talent for music. Her worst fault is her shyness. The heart of the family, she is selfless and loving. She has a collection of broken dolls, which she cares for with tenderness.
Marmee constantly guides her children, teaching them to be good Christians. The creed of the March household is self-control, self-denial in the service of others, and love for all. Her favorite texts are The Pilgrim's Progress and the New Testament. Marmee leads by example and is often out of the house helping her neighbors when she is not with her daughters.
Theodore (Laurie) Laurence has come home to live after being at school abroad. He is a handsome, affectionate, generous, and sometimes impetuous young man who is turning 16 when the novel begins. He feels lonely being cooped up at his grandfather's house, and after he makes friends with the March girls, he becomes their friend, brother, and playmate.