This is the second discussion post for the Little House on the Prairie Read-a-long- Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. For a complete schedule see this post. I have moved the opening day of each discussion to the first Monday of the month, instead of the first day of the month. Things should just start on a Monday. You are not in any way require to post on opening day, and the discussions can continue throughout the month before moving onto the next book. There really are no rules.
This post and the comments will contain spoilers.
So when we last left Laura, she was living in a tiny cabin in the woods. At the end of that year, Pa decides that the family needs to take advantage of the land that is opening up to settlers in Kansas, and packs everyone into the wagon and they take off. It takes the family weeks to cross the prairie and eventually they settle close Independence, Kansas. Pa builds a house and stable, digs a well and they begin to settle. Unfortunately for the Ingalls family, the abandoned Indian path past their house turns out not to be so abandoned, and the "open land" turns out to still belong to the Osage tribe, and at the end of the year, the family packs up and returns to Wisconsin.
Things are getting a little more real for the Ingalls this year, aren't they?? From the river crossing at the beginning to the prairie fire at the end, and it's all just part of life. Can you even imagine needing to know everything Ma and Pa knew how to do just to survive? How to build a house, how to dig a well, how to beat a prairie fire. I'm exhausted just reading it. I read several of the stories in this one out loud to various family members and despite knowing it's (mostly) true, it reads so much like fiction as to be nearly unbelievable. Can you imagine packing up and leaving your family and knowing that you may never see them again, and never know what happened to each other?
Remember in the last book how I quoted that bit about the sky being so big? It happens again in Prairie! In my copy this is on page 10, but I read a Large Print copy, so may be different in your copy. I'm curious to see if this will be a recurring theme in all of the books.
All day long Pet and Patty went forward, trotting and walking and trotting again, but they couldn't get out of the middle of that circle. When the sun went down, the circle was still around them and the edge of the sky was pink. Then slowly the land became black. The wind made a lonely sound in the grass. the camp ire was small and lost in so much space. But large stars hung from the sky, glittering so near that Laura felt she could almost touch them.
So let's talk about it:
- How about that lake crossing? It wasn't scary until it was over and then I couldn't stop thinking about a family just vanishing in the ice.
- And then the creek crossing right after- just how safe were those wagons?
- How long do you think it really took Pa and Mr. Edwards to build the house and stable? And why don't we hear about Pa being gone to help Mr. Edwards with his?
- Do you think Mrs. Scott was a bit hysterical with her fascination with the massacre, or do you think maybe she's the most realistic person on the prairie?
- Do you think Pa really believed the prairie to be as safe as he insisted, or was he just trying to reassure Ma and the girls?
- Fever 'n' Ague- yet another way to wipe out entire families!
- Another Christmas of plenty. Or not. I read this part to my sons, who couldn't even pay attention they found it so unrealistic. I kept trying to bribe them with pennies, and they all but laughed. The internet suggests this is about $.20 today. How excited would you have been to get your own cup for Christmas? (I got myself a new mug just yesterday, but I don't plan to use it for every meal.)
- The story of Mr. Edwards and Santa was my favorite part of the book, what was your favorite?
- Do you think Ma was relieved to pack and and go home at the end, or upset about a wasted year? Can you imagine changing your entire life in a day like that? Or being able to pack your entire house in just a few hours (I'm moving in three weeks. I WISH I could!)
- It seemed to me that Laura was really reinforcing the idea of Mary as the perfect girl while Laura was the naughty one. Do you think this was exaggerated for the sake of the books? As a way to build sympathy for Mary later (dun dun dun, foreshadowing?)
- The elephant in the room- Can we really feel sorry for Pa for having to give up his hard work when the land still belonged to the Osage? I looked up Du Chene and it seems that perhaps Laura took some liberties with him, but in any case, do you think there was one anti-war Chief that saved them all? How scary would the war cries and drums have been? It seems that the entire family was on the breaking point listening.
- Any other thoughts?