This book, the second in the series, follows the Ingalls family as they move from Wisconsin to the wide-open prairie of the Kansas Territories. Pa is frustrated with how populated Wisconsin has become and decides the family needs to move away to area less populated.
I continue to be surprised at the issues I overlooked while reading the Little House series as a kid. I also never noticed how selfish Charles comes across as he decides to relocate his whole family. Caroline, Laura’s Ma, seems incredibly unhappy with the decision to move to Kansas, and I could not shake the feeling that Pa wasn’t as perfect as I thought he was a child.
At one point in this novel Charles (Pa) makes the comment that the Indians must move off the land in order to make way for white settlers who have an inherent right to the land. Never mind the fact that he is squatting on Native American land legally closed to non-Native Americans. There were also moments where Ma would grumble that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian”. Throughout the novel Indians are portrayed at savages while hard-working, white families are presented as having a superseding right to land Native Americans have called home for generations. I know their comments are historical accurate and reflect the prevailing sentiments of the time but I was surprised at how little the prejudices of the characters registered with me as a child.
But one can still appreciate classic literature through modern eyes. Despite its offensive portrayal, I in no way think this book should be banished from shelves. It provides an entertaining and informative tale of the prevailing sentiments of the day as well as life as a pioneer during the 1870s.
- Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House on the Prairie. New York: Scholastic, 1963. Originally published 1935. Print. 335 pgs. ISBN: 9780590488181. Source: Purchased.