In Little House in the Big Woods, the world was introduced to a young Laura Ingalls. The girl who preferred to be outside, sunbonnet on her back, wild braids flying free as she helped Pa with chores. The girl who probably wiggled her way into your heart and never left (unless you’re Team Mary and you can leave).
My favorite part of Little House in the Big Woods is when Laura visits town for the first time (and not just the part about ripping her dress as she greedily shoved rocks in). The genuineness in Laura’s reaction upon first entering town, when she wrote that a bunch of houses were blocking the view of the town, was so sweet and innocent. It was hard for me not to like her. It was also hard for me to not want her to slap Mary everytime she wrote that she wanted to.
As the Little House story continued, the family packed up their most important items (China Shepherdess, anyone?) and moved to Indian Territory. We knew we were in for an adventure from the start of Little House on the Prairie. As the family tries to settle the land and build a life, we’re introduced to some of the strongest racism in the book. We sadly learn that Ma is really racist, but she only hates Indians because she didn’t seem to flinch at black Dr. Tan caring for them through their bought of fever and ague.
I found the white settlers “logic” interesting as I read this book. The Ingalls’ neighbor Mrs. Scott says, “Lord knows they’d never do anything with this country themselves. All they do is roam around over it like wild animals. Treaties or no treaties, the land belongs to folks that’ll farm it. That’s only common sense and justice.” It really isn’t common sense or justice, but I suppose hindsight is definitely 20/20. I’ll actually be covering the topic of racism in a later post, so hold onto your bonnet strings!
What I Remember
It was almost impossible to read these books without a deep sense of nostalgia overwhelming me, and I loved every minute of it! As I read through all of the books, there were certain scenes or even small moments that I recalled more than others. In Little House in the Big Woods, that was at the sugaring off dance and celebration and grandma and grandpa’s cabin. I didn’t recall most of the dance, but I did remember the maple syrup treats everyone enjoyed when grandma poured the boiling syrup onto plates of snow. It so made me want to tap a maple tree.
In Little House on the Prairie I recalled Laura and Mary wading in the stream. Of course, Mary was listening to Pa, but Laura wandered out further than she was supposed to. While we later learn that Mary was trying to show off and be a good girl, I think this is a good example of Mary just being shy and more afraid of the world than adventurous Laura.
What do you remember most from Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie? What were your favorite parts of the stories?