Yay! We’ve finally reached the point in our journey when Mary admits to acting vainly like a good girl. Didn’t know you were on this journey with me? Well, if you’re reading this then I think you are. So let’s journey on!
On page 12, as Laura is guiding Mary across the prairie during their daily walk, Laura admits that she’d always wanted to slap Mary when they were children. Mary replied with, “I know why you wanted to slap me,” Mary said. “It was because I was showing off. I wasn’t really wanting to be good. I was showing off to myself, what a good little girl I was and being vain and proud, and I deserved to be slapped for it.”
I believe this moment is the reason Laura made Mary such a goody-two-shoes or that at this point she decided to get a little jab at Mary. Or maybe I just don’t really know. My theories are probably half baked, but it’s fun having them.
Mary admitting to acting good was the death knell to Mary as the good girl. Laura and Mary were able to spend time together (mostly on their walks because Laura had to work long hours). Their time together was a good last hurrah before Mary went off to college. While I’ve said and thought a lot about what a waste it was to send Mary to college, I don’t really believe it was entirely. Or at least now I don’t. Mary learned how to live a rich life despite her blindness. She learned to read Braille, write letters and play the organ, things that served to enrich the rest of her life. Her life was by all accounts I’ve read, a happy, quiet life.
(That was hard for me to admit.)
The town of De Smet is really gaining a vibrancy in this book. The literaries sound like such fun events, right down to a town spelling bee. The final literary can be excluded, after all it was a racist pantomime complete with black face. There’s nothing to defend this behavior, unless you consider it was normal at the time a good excuse for racism. Excluding that incident, it’s fascinating to me how the town easily came together for a fun time. There was little need for planning, no need to elect leaders. (Thanks, Pa!) All they needed was a group of people and years of schooling in which repetition was forced over an actual understanding of the material.
What I Remember
Like I said before, I usually just remember random, small moments from books that seem trivial. Like the Encyclopedia Brown case that he solved by telling his dad that the man couldn’t have just returned home after driving hours because he’d just stood his young son on the hood of the car that should have been crazy hot. See? Important.
What I do remember from this book involves Laura and Mary’s walks, but not Mary admitting to being a fake good girl. I remember Laura talking about the openness of the prairies with its gentle (but deceiving) rolling hills. But mostly, I remember Laura saying she could see to the Wessington hills. That was my hometown! I remember reading that as an elementary student, marking the page and excitedly showing it to my best friend the next morning on the school bus.
What were your thoughts on Little Town on the Prairie?