Your Turn: User Nominations

Your Turn: Laura Ingalls

From the Little House book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Nominated by Callie Kimball

Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls in TV's 'Little House on the Prairie'

Hard work and rock candy: Callie Kimball says Laura Ingalls — portrayed here by Melissa Gilbert in TV's long-running Little House on the Prairie — illustrated the value of bootstrapping in a world that doesn't always take perfect care of its kids. Photo: NBC/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Photo: NBC/Getty Images

Laura Ingalls — the character, not the author — was a complex girl in a hostile world. That she was based on someone real gave a force to her stories that was absent from the male-driven literature at school. She wasn't pretty, she wasn't plucky, she wasn't particularly clever. Not your typical heroine, and for that I loved her all the more.

She was an example of humor, compassion, and industry I could relate to. She did farm chores that made her strong, she was smart (but only from making the occasional poor choice), and she knew the value of a dollar thanks to her hand-me-down calico dresses.

She showed that living in America involved hard work — but also that there would be square dances and rock candy once in a while. With romanticism and reality, she reinforced the Emersonian virtue of self-reliance in my latchkey adolescence.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Not particularly plucky? Not particularly clever? Pardon me, but "strong as a little French horse" (or, "Half-Pint," if you prefer) spelled down nearly THE ENTIRE TOWN in the spelling bee in The Long Winter (Pa won, of course), and she was awarded her teaching certificate (even though she was technically too young to be teaching) on the merits of her history presentation alone. Not to mention her VERY clever poem about "lazy, lousy, Liza Jane!" that caused so much controversy in Little Town on the Prairie. In that same book, she was sent home from school for defiantly rocking her seat-bench in her sister's defense, so violently that it came unbolted from the floor.

She wasn't pretty. I'll give you that. Mary was pretty. But then she went blind, so it all evened out.

Sent by Lisa G | 10:09 PM | 1-10-2008

The Laura Ingalls that inspires me is not necessarily the one that most recognize from TV's Little House on the Prairie. Rather, it's the little half-pint who is a little naughty, a little shy, and yet very adventurous in the Little House books.

Laura's fictional self-portrait has given me a branch to my own family roots by portraying the struggles, joys, and determination of a family settling in unknown territory. She reveals the pioneer spirit in all of us as she grows up in a constantly on-the-move family led by her Pa, Charles Ingalls, during the American post-Civil War years.

Through her books, I have learned how to survive in long, cold winters, how to make butter, and how to find sunshine amidst shadows. I live a parallel life with Laura Ingalls Wilder, using her motto, Where there's a will, theres a way to tackle today???s decisions. ???Little??? - but great.

Sent by Connie Neumann | 1:31 PM | 1-11-2008

To clarify: by saying she wasn't particularly clever or plucky, I meant she wasn't clever for the sake of cleverness' sake, as in, to the point of being a self-serving annoyance who just likes to make trouble for trouble's sake. She had more depth than to be able to be categorized in such trite terms.

Sent by callie kimball | 3:34 PM | 1-15-2008

What was so hostile about Laura Ingalls world? I feel that she lived in the wilderness yes, but todays world is filled with a siginificantly larger amount of hostility. Little Half-Pint is an extremely admirable character: she is a great model for children of all ages: she is not smug, she is not stupid. She makes mistakes, but she learns from them, instead of dwelling on it.

Sent by Meaghan | 11:54 AM | 1-16-2008

i love laura.shes my idol.i dont think shes plucky shes as strong as a little french horse

Sent by rachel swanson | 9:14 PM | 3-8-2008

About