Jo writes to Mrs. March and Beth about her adventures in New York. Mrs. Kirke is the proprietor of a large boarding house, and the place is filled with numerous characters. Jo is in charge of taking care of Mrs. Kirke’s two little girls: Minnie and Kitty.
In spite of being a tomboy, Jo is depicted as having strong maternal instincts – one of her few stereotypically feminine traits. Her time as a governess will illustrate this.
Jo befriends Professor Bhaer – a jolly, bearded German man who has the custody of his two young, orphaned nephews. (His deceased sister had married an American, and had wished for her sons to live in America.) Jo is tickled by Professor Bhaer’s intelligence and kindness, and she’s delighted by how much the children in the boarding house adore him.
Jo’s admiration of Professor Bhaer has to do as much with his poverty (which breeds virtue) as it does with his genuine manner and his love for children. It’s also worth noting that her admiration doesn’t involve passion.
At Christmastime, Jo is pleased to discover that Professor Bhaer, in spite of being quite poor, has given everyone in the house a gift. He gives Jo a copy of Shakespeare’s works. Jo gives him several small gifts in return. Their friendship flourishes, and Jo concludes that she is very happy with her new life in New York.
Mr. Bhaer’s generosity is a product both of his strong Christian beliefs and of the poverty he’s endured. It’s worth comparing his relationship with Jo to the relationship Jo has with Laurie. There is no passion or spark in this instance; theirs is a kinship of the mind.