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Little House on the Prairie, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, bears some resemblance to Sarah Plain and Tall, written by Patricia MacLachlan. Within both of the texts one can find two families that are adjusting to life out on the Prairie. Even though the books are written some fifty years apart they still portray the aspects of living on the prairies in the Midwest. In both books the parents seem equally important to the plot, while the point of view enhances the importance of the children within the books.
In Little House on the Prairie the family is already formed, but the homestead is not. The opposite situation occurs in Sarah, Plain and Tall, where the homestead is in place but the family is not quite complete until Sarah travels from Maine to live with Jacob, Anna and Caleb. In both books, all of the characters are very similar. Charles and Jacob, the fathers in the books, are seen as very strong willed, loving and appear to be capable providers. The fathers in both of these books are in control of their families and do whatever is necessary to provide. On many occasions Charles travels to Independence to get food for his family and he also hunts and traps animals to sell their fur. Although Jacob's acts of providing for his family are more stationary, he works hard on their farm to provide for them.
The men may be hard workers and do the main part of the manual labor, but the women also do their share to contribute to the success of the family. In Sarah, Plain and Tall the roof needs repaired and a storm is on the way. Jacob tells Sarah that he needs to fix the roof and she replies, "We will fix the roof." (46). Sarah and Caroline are both willing to do their share of work on the prairie. Caroline helps Charles build their house on the prairie. "Pa lifted one end of a log onto the wall, then Ma held it while he lifted the other end"(58). Sarah also insists that Jacob should teach her how to drive the wagon because she wants to go into town to get supplies.
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Although they have prominent parent figures, the children play a constant role in the book. Even though the books where told from different points of view, there was a focus on the children. Sarah, Plain and Tall is written in first person and told by Anna. Little House on the Prairie was written in third person but the author of the book was Laura herself. Sarah, Plain and Tall feels more personal to the reader while Little House on the Prairie gives the reader a feel for what it would be like to travel in a wagon on the prairie.
These books have many similarities. The families are much the same, the children play a large role, and the point of view contributes to the overall feel of the novel. While many differences arise throughout the stories, the basis of character and point of view remain similar. These similarities contribute to the idea of the importance of a child perspective in the overall effect of a novel. The fact that these stories relate to the personal aspects of life, we are able to identify with the characters and situations that come to pass. This is a main reason as to why these stories have become classics in American Society.
Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House on the Prairie. 1935. Illustrated by Garth Williams in 1953. New York: Harper and Row.
MacLachlan, Patricia. Sarah, Plain and Tall. New York: Harper Collins, 1985.