THOUGHTS ON RE-READING THE "LITTLE HOUSE" SERIES
My sister sent me the full set of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series for my birthday. As I channel my inner pioneer girl, here's some observations.
- •The writing is every bit as good as I remember.I last read these books sometime around 1972, when I devoured them. At the time, the beauty of her prose and her skill at characterization escaped me - my 8-year-old critical eye was more fascinated with running barefoot all summer and using a pig's bladder as a balloon.
- •But they're also horribly racistFrom questionable song lyrics to Ma's outright hatred of Native Americans, the books are a product of their time. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. I'm looking at you, Donald Trump.
- •Mary was a total bitch.When it comes to big sisters named Mary, Mary Ingalls gives Lady Mary Crawley a run for her money in the bitch department. She teases Laura and then slips into passive aggressive princess mode while Pa whups Half-Pint's butt. Bitch.
- •Oh, Pa!Putting aside the fact that he constantly put his family at needless risk to feed his adrenaline habit, Pa Ingalls was a Pa who was kind, loving, strict, and, yes, a bit of a feminist in his own Big Woods way. 40+ years on, I see him now as the Grandpa at the holiday dinner table who cautions you about the savages in your transitional neighborhood while handing you a peppermint.
- •The songs!Questionable lyrics aside, the books are rich with folk songs of the period. Where's my Little House mash-up?
- •Almanzo had it bad.I know a thing or two about receiving spousal devotion, but Almanzo wins the prize driving his sleigh miles and miles in the dead of winter every weekend to bring Laura home to her family because she's miserable and homesick at her first teaching job. 😍
- •I would not have survivedI'd Iike to think I have a good work ethic. But there is so much freaking effort that goes into, well, everything. Cooking, cleaning, shelter, even amusement. And let's not get into the hot bath situation. I can't imagine having to work that much to merely survive.