Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Poor, Slighted Laura Ingalls

Well, the polls are soon to close, and Laura Ingalls is not someone we own up to being like. BUT, here is why we should?

Ahem. Herewith, my journal entry on Laura Ingalls acting out in LHBW:

The textbook Children’s Literature, Briefly (4th edition) recommends a list of indicators for “good” children’s books for classroom inclusion, and the list includes: “not depicting inappropriate behavior.”

In Little House in the Big Woods, Laura acts out spectacularly: “Laura’s throat swelled tight, and she could not speak. She knew golden hair was prettier than brown. She couldn’t speak, so she reached out quickly and slapped Mary’s face.”

For this indiscretion, Pa “whipped Laura with the strap.” I was surprised by how my memory of Laura Ingalls had blurred over the decades.

The debate over who has the "prettiest hair" has been brewing all day. Furthermore, when Laura’s pocket fell off her dress for the weight of stones she has put in it, Laura compares her fortunes with Mary’s:

“Nothing like that ever happened to Mary. Mary was a good little girl who always kept her dress clean and neat and minded her manners. Mary had lovely golden curls, and her candy heart had a poem on it.”

Right before Laura slaps her, Mary has just boasted that “Golden hair is lots prettier than brown.” The wonder becomes not that Laura slaps Mary, but that she waited so long to do it.

Pa whips Laura with a strap, and she is not so “naughty” again in this book. Cousin Charley, by contrast, who cries wolf three times “and still, Uncle Henry did not tan his hide,” gets his comeuppance in the form of hundreds of yellow jacket stings.

Pa’s comment?: “‘It served the little liar right.’”

Oh, Pa. I fondly misremembered you from the TV series... In any case, while the textbook has me unconvinced on this point I voted for Madeline, who doesn't stay in line either! Why did you vote the way you did?


  1. I voted for Laura, but I don't think I was as wild as she was. But I must admit that I didn't know enough about Madeline and Strega to consider them. And I wasn't sure which Charlotte you were including. So I voted for Laura. But really was more bookish. Who do you think I *should* have chosen?

  2. I voted for Madeline but I think I have some attributes (perhaps negative ones!) similar to each character. I didn't vote for Laura because I don't think I'm as bold as she was. I have also misremembered much about her and Pa and Ma....

  3. Oh, GEW: I love that you're a Laura!

    Re: Charlotte, I was thinking Charlotte (the spider) of C's Web, but she's a goody eight shoes. Strega Nona is a lovable crone (but I figured I shouldn't be ageist). I do like Pippi Longstocking, but don't have her self-confidence. Best moment: Pippi v. shark in Pippi in the South Seas.

    In any case, the polls closed with Laura evened up alongside Madeline and Pippi (a 3-way tie!). Thanks for voting on the inaugural poll! Stay tuned for the sequel!

  4. I thought it was Charlotte the spider, and I almost voted for her because I can be somewhat responsible and self-sacrificing, and, you know, I'm all about using language to, like, SAVE people.

    But I always LOVED Laura, and even if I wasn't just like her, I sure wanted to be.