In Act 1, Scene 1, we find out about Jos schooling abilities. When she arrives, she wants to find somewhere to plant her bulbs. As she says, Its nice to see a few flowers. Helen finds some drawings that Jo had done and compliments her by saying, I didnt realise I had such a talented daughter. Jo reveals her childish side by replying with Im not just talented, Im geniused. Jos intentions of leaving school and Helen at Christmas, becomes apparent, as she seems to think that she is mature and independent enough to do so. Another sign her naivety. Her view of the new flat also comes into light when Helen says, This is the place, and Jo replies with, And I dont like it. Her attitude to life is arguably summarised with those few words. She is forever criticising Helen and rarely calls her mother or mum. The pair are constantly bickering and Jo even says, Im sick of you. Youve made my life a misery. Her dislike and contempt for life, instantly recognisable, is possibly due to her loneliness.
Her mother gives her very little support so she must seek affection from other sources. Although she seems to hate Helen, Jo is very dependent on her and to a certain extent Helen is dependent on Jo. She is always making Jo do things for her (getting drinks, cooking, etc). There is little doubt that her misery is also due to her unsatisfactory mother. Their relationship is hardly your stereotypical mother-daughter one, which contributes greatly to Jo leaving school and her mother as soon as she has the chance. Helen is not oblivious to her incompetence as a mother who says, I know, Im a cruel, wicked woman, and not using the word mother.
Peter is a dodgy car salesman with an eye patch, and one of the reasons that Helen moved. He wants her to marry him but Helen declines. However with persuasion and persistence his charm soon takes affect and she finally agrees. Jo immediately holds Peter with just as much contempt as her mother. Her spiteful attitude towards him is likely because Peter has her mothers love and she does not, though of course Jo would never admit this. Jo soon changes however and asks Peter coyly, Do you fancy me? and he responds, Not yet.
Jo clearly seeks attention from Peter. He also has photographs of all his ex-girlfriends. Jo makes fun of his eye patch, again expressing her childish ways. We also find out about Jos phobias, Im not frightened of the darkness outside. Its the darkness inside I dont like. This tells the reader that she feels dark and lonely inside, which sheds light onto why she has a depressing attitude to life. Helen neglects her needs, for example, leaving her alone for a weekend while she runs off with Peter. Helen also makes no attempt to help Jo when shes pregnant, if anything Helen is angry, perhaps because Jo has made the same mistakes she once made. Being the age of 16 some may say she is quite independent, leaving school and home, however she is still a na¯¿½ve child inside with a thirst for attention and affection
Jo is not perturbed by her mothers actions, and is still determined to become independent. Her plans to move out are executed, and she decides she would like to marry a black sailor. Jo knows Helen will disapprove, which seems to make it the whole affair better. Jos relationship with the sailor seems short and casual. They both say that they love each other but are very relaxed. For example, when he leaves and does not come back she is not worried, probably because she is used to moving on and leaving many things behind. Later on though when talking to Geoff, she says Last Christmas I had him, she obviously misses him, and talks fondly about him especially when the baby is due.
Helens departure has little effect on Jo, which is slightly unexpected, as she now has the independence away from her mother that she always wanted. This is likely because she really needs someone to depend on especially with a baby on the way. Geoff, a gay student is her saviour. He becomes Jos shoulder to cry on, and is keen on becoming a father figure for the baby. Jo seems to take advantage of Geoffs kindness and often makes him do stuff for her. Geoff does not seem to mind, even when she makes fun of his sexuality, which many people did at the time. Geoff was her pillar of strength when she had her childish tantrums, such as wanting to cut off the babies head or disown it.
Geoff, probably more than she was on her mother. Jo even says, supposedly to the baby, Lets see what big sisters making us.
Geoff is a friendly carer and is totally different from the sailor. Whereas the sailor wants a sexual relationship, Geoff is content with caring for Jo and making cakes. Geoff even asks Jo if they should get married and also asks her what shed do if he started something. Jo replies, In my condition, Id probably faint. He adores babies but Jo is less keen on them. Geoff seems to want, more than anything, to be the father of Jos child.
To begin with, Jo treats Geoff with little respect, joking around and saying things that could hurt him. As their relationship progresses and they get to know each other better, Jo respects Geoff more and more. Jo eventually realises that the baby will need a father figure and decides to let Geoff stay, but they wouldnt get married.
Jo has mixed feelings about becoming a mother. She is intent on keeping the baby at first because she thinks it is cruel to have them aborted. She does, though, have some doubts. For example, she doesnt want to breast feed her baby. Geoff brings her a doll to practice holds on. She says the colours wrong the father being black and explodes. She screams, Ill bash its brains out! Ill kill it! I dont want to be a mother, which makes us think that she may have an abortion after all.
Previously though, the baby kicked her and she was overwhelmed. All of these details then leave us wondering if she is ready for motherhood. It is more likely that she is ready to become a mother because she has matured a lot since the beginning of the play when she was dependent on Helen.
As the play progresses, we see Jo turn from a na¯¿½ve young girl to a mature woman. She is no longer dependant on anyone and, although she is probably destined to a life living in small flats and houses, the prospects are bright and, as she sings at the very end, a glimmer of hope shines through and we think she may have a happy life.