Lessons Behind the Woodshed: A Conservative Feminist View of Pa Ingalls

August 28

Lessons Behind the Woodshed: A Conservative Feminist View of Pa Ingalls

Ah yes, I have desecrated holy literary ground by suggesting, a few posts back, that Charles Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie fame might be something less than saintly.  An explanation is in order.

A few days ago I was discussing with my best friend R~ the possibility of something which may or may not be happening to our household within the next year.  She, being my best friend and herself a victim of my possible circumstances, was quite sympathetic to my foreseeable plight, which of course lead to the discussion about the fact that men are clueless.

She then brought up that she had recently borrowed from the library a copy of Little House on the Prairie on CD.  While she was running errands with her kids, listening to the CD, she suddenly saw Pa in a much different light than she had ever seen him.  In order to help you understand I shall quote extensively from the first chapter and insert insightful editorial comments and highlighting:

“They were going to the Indian country [kind of a hostile place to take the wife and kids, dacha think?]. . .

“Pa said there were too many people in the Big Woods now [I had no idea that the overpopulation problem in Wisconsin began that long ago] . . . The path that went by the little house had become a road [Noooooooo!  Not a ROAD!] . . . 

“Wild animals would not stay in a country where there were so many people.  Pa did not like to stay, either [which makes much more sense if you read the preceding sentence, which I did not type out, but which explains that the traffic on that hellish road was terrible: almost one entire wagon a day!]. . .

“One day in the very last of the winter Pa said to Ma, ‘Seeing you don’t object, I’ve decided to go see the West.  I’ve had an offer for this place and we can sell it now for as much as we’re ever likely to get, enough to give us a start in a new country [specifically, the hostile country]. . .'”

“Everything from the little house was in the wagon, except the beds and tables and chairs.  They did not need to take these, because Pa could always make new ones [well, bully for him]. . .”

“Mary and Laura clung tight to their rag dolls and did not say anything [trauma does that to a kid].  The cousins stood around and looked at them.  Grandma and all the aunts hugged and kissed them and hugged and kissed them again, saying good-by [because, contrary to what the men-folk think, women aren’t stupid, and they all realized this would probably be the last time they’d ever see each other again]. . .

“All the cousins were told to kiss Mary and Laura, so they did [because moving isn’t hard enough, you must be slobbered on by creepy cousin Dirk on the way out the door].  Pa picked up Mary and then Laura, and set them on the bed in the back of the wagon.  He helped Ma climb up onto the wagon seat [really, the least he could do under the circumstances — the very least], and Grandma reached up and gave her Baby Carrie.  Pa swung up and sat beside Ma [probably really not a safe place for him at that moment], and Jack, the brindle bulldog, went under the wagon [damn conservatives, treating their dog that-a-way].

“So they all went away from the little log house.  The shutters were over the windows, so the little house could not see them go.  It stayed there inside the log fence, behind the two big oak trees that in the summertime had made green roofs for Mary and Laura to play under.  And that was the last of the little house [and Pa was completely oblivious to the pain and sorrow of the rest of his family because, Yee Haw!  he was goin’ West!].

So, after R~ summarized it so well for me (he uproots his family in the winter to take them into hostile territory where they will never see their friends and relatives again because HE was feeling overcrowded, and HE didn’t really care what the rest of them thought of the plan or how it might affect THEM), I said, “Yeah, it really sounds like Pa needed some therapy and anti-depressants.

“No,” she said, “Pa needed dragged out behind the barn and taught a lesson; and if Ma came out swinging a bat, then more power to her!”

More power to her, indeed.

And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt says hello.

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