Pippi Longstocking is a fictional nine-year-old girl. At the start of the titular novel, she moves into Villa Villekulla, her house that she shares with her monkey named Mr. Nilsson and her horse, and quickly befriends the two children living next door, Tommy and Annika Settergren. With her suitcase of gold coins, she maintains an independent lifestyle without her parents: her mother died soon after her birth, and her father, Captain Ephraim Longstocking, is first missing at sea, and then, king of a South Sea island. Despite periodic attempts by village authorities to make her conform to cultural expectations of what a child's life should be, such as unsuccessfully sending her to school, Pippi happily lives free from social conventions. According to Eva-Maria Metcalf, Pippi "loves her freckles and her tattered clothes and makes not the slightest attempt to suppress her wild imagination or to adopt good manners." She has a penchant for storytelling, which often takes the form of tall tales.
When discussing Pippi, Astrid Lindgren explained that "Pippi represents my own childish longing for a person who has power but does not abuse it. And pay attention to the fact that Pippi never does that." Although she is the self-proclaimed "strongest girl in the world," Pippi often uses nonviolence to solve conflicts or protect other children from bullying. Pippi has been variously described by literary critics as "warm-hearted," compassionate, kind, clever, generous, playful, and witty to the point of besting adult characters in conversation. Laura Hoffeld wrote that while Pippi's "naturalness entails selfishness, ignorance, and a marked propensity to lie," the character "is simultaneously generous, quick and wise, and true to herself and others."