Kartini's best friend at school was a little Hollander, Letsy, the daughter of the head master. A question of Letsy's, "What are you going to be when you grow up?" both puzzled and interested her. When she went home after school was over, she repeated the question anxiously, "What am I going to be when I grow up?" Her father, who loved her very dearly, did not answer but smiled and pinched her cheek. An older brother overheard her and said, "What should a girl become, why a Raden Ajoe of course." Raden Ajoe is the title of a Javanese married woman of high rank, while the unmarried daughter of a regent is Raden Adjeng.
In Kartini a spirit of rebellion was awakened which grew with the years. Even as a child she vowed that she would not become merely a Raden Ajoe, she would be strong, combat all prejudice and shape her own destiny. But she was soon to feel the weight of convention pressing upon her with inexorable force. When she reached the age of twelve and a half she was considered by her parents old enough to leave school and remain at home in seclusion according to the established usage. Some day there would have to be a wedding and a Javanese bridegroom was chosen by the girl's parents and often never seen by his bride until after the ceremony, as her presence was not required at that solemnity.