From the perspective of Laura, the prairie and westward migration is a mythical and curious place that evokes a sense of adventure and excitement within her. From the very beginning of the journey, she craves to see a papoose, an indian baby, and pesters her father about it (6). In this sense, what lies in the prairie is merely wonderings and ideas to her, but never any truths until she faces them first hand. Wilder writes, “You never know what will happen next, nor where you’ll be tomorrow, when you’re traveling in a covered wagon.” (327) As the family continues onto their next journey, the myth and unknown occurrences in the prairie await them. There is no telling what dangers or adventures will come next because to Laura, the prairie and migration have and will remain a mystifying thing for her.
The presence of Laura’s Ma and Pa places a sense of comfort and protection on her perspective of the prairie. She claims again and again throughout the novel that as long as Jack, the family dog, and Pa are nearby, no harm can come to her (7). However, this perspective gets twisted and tested by the prairie as obstacles present th...
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...beauty is non-existent to the unknowing eye. However, for someone like Laura, who has been challenged and overcome by the prairie, the beauty is evident all around her: “She liked the enormous sky and the winds, and the land that you couldn’t see to the end of. Everything was so fresh and clean and big and splendid.” (75) What started as a childish excitement for something new and unknown, developed into a deep appreciation for the nothingness and open skies that seemed to go on forever.
The prairie is presented as a mythical and mysterious place where the comfort of parental care and supervision is tested for children. From this lack of comfort develops a sense of self-awareness as the prairie tests’ Laura’s ability to thrive within it. Ultimately, this leads Laura to a greater appreciation and understanding of westward migration in its primitive state.
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