Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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.

Others’ Thoughts:

Book Mentioned:

  • Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House on the Prairie. New York: Scholastic, 1963. Originally published 1935. Print. 335 pgs. ISBN: 9780590488181. Source: Purchased.
Book Cover © Scholastic. Retrieved: January 9, 2012.
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4 thoughts on “Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

  1. You bring up a good point! I should probably re-read these now as an adult. I did so love this series as a child, but the prejudice certainly did not register at that time. I would probably be a bit shocked at my thoughts now as opposed to my memories of reading this as a child. I do think it is still a fantastic look into history and we can learn a lot from it. Nice review!

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  2. This one really disturbed me! It’s the only book in the Wilder collection I sincerely disliked. I too respect it as a work of literature, but Charles was just so unlikable in this one (in my opinion.) I reflected on it after reading and might like it better on a revisit, but it left me feeling icky.

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  3. When I reread this last year I felt exactly the same way (strangely, the library did own the Little House on the Prairie books, re: my previous commet). I do remember feeling pity for the Indians when I read this as a child, but it hadn’t registered how prejudiced the books are. Of course, I doubt if I knew the word prejudiced when I read them back then.

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