Saturday, 7 March 2015

Relevance Today of Little House on the Prairie

Little House on the Prairie is marketed as a children's book after Laura Ingalls Wilder's original plot for her memoirs did not cut it as a text that could be marketed. Publishers thought it would be easier to market the book as a children's story, and combine it with her memoirs and a westwards narrative that would continue to inspire children with the idea of the 'American Dream' and freedom. 

It has been proven over the years that Laura Ingalls Wilder made up some of the situations and circumstances of her novels, as in fact she would have been too young to recall most events she depicts, and shows her family as being older than they were. Wilder sets the novel a far way over the Kansas border and in Indian territory, and far away from other people and civilised towns despite in reality her family were settled only a few miles over the border and census shows that there were more than twenty other homesteads within range of them.

Wilder's dramatisations of her past make for a more exciting and interesting life than her real memories would. She changes the timescale of when things happened to her and twists the truth to offer an exciting and child-friendly perspective of moving west. The westwards narrative that her series depicts embeds the idea of freedom in the west to the children of today as her books are still popular with younger generations. Americans grow up having read and been read this book as children and it embeds in them the idea of the 'American Dream' and depicts it as being okay that this family invaded Indian territory as the right to the land remained with the Americans that could use and cultivate it.

The marketing of the book allows for a sense of patriotism and freedom as the covers of most issues depict a young girl, Laura, looking out across the great plains in the tall grass with cloudy blue skies above her. 

The book is also popular for its views of the American Dream and how the family set out to find a new place to settle and build their house. On the blurb of the edition I own, the 2014 Egmont edition, it takes a line from the story - "Here we are, Caroline!" said Pa, "Right here we'll build our house." - which shows this unbelievable sense of complete freedom, that the family could build their house wherever they wished to live. 

The idea of the 'American Dream' that plays a large part in the freedom of the story is easily marketable as most Americans are willing to buy into it and wish to believe that the dream can be achieved and Laura Ingalls Wilder's series is the perfect way to allow this. 

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