Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

Mary R. Ryder


From the Introduction:

From horses and buggies through steam railway _engines to the prominence of the automobile, Laura Ingalls Wilder lived through a historically critical American experience--pioneering. At age sixty-five she published her first novel, Little House in the Big Woods, the first book in an as yet unforeseen nine book series about her experiences as a young girl raised on the Midwestern plains. Little House in the Big Woods is actually a compilation of her father's tales. Wilder feared that these stories and their value would be lost unless she preserved them in writing. ldealistica!ly, she wanted to tell children " 'what it was like to be a child in America long ago' " (Giff 9), but, she said 11 'the real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong'" (Anderson, Laura Wilder of Mansfield 29). When Little House in the Big Woods met immediately with public success, Wilder planned the rest of her books with the help of her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, an already renowned author. The Little House series has "entertained and inspired readers for many years and in many countries" (Anderson, Laura Wilder of Mansfield 2). Although Wilder's work attracted world-wide readership, it receives scant serious analysis. Wilder's Little House books are generally perceived as overly-romanticized idealization of family life, despite the evident hardship of the plains. Although "nowhere in the Little House books will one find a wholesale endorsement of frontiering as a way of life" (Spaeth, Laura Ingalls Wilder 34), Wilder's novels bring to life the pioneer spirit of betting one's energy and time against the prairie elements and a distant government .

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 -- Criticism and interpretation Sisters in literature



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 1993 the Author