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 Laura Had a Feeling

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Rhonda
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PostSubject: Laura Had a Feeling   Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:54 pm



"Laura had to play outdoors by herself, and she had a queer feeling about the prairie. It didn’t feel safe. It seemed to be hiding something. Sometimes Laura had a feeling that something was watching her, something was creeping up behind her. She turned around quickly, and nothing was there.”

I recently taught Little House on the Prairie in a class on the history of American childhood and was struck not only by Laura’s incisive sense of the danger inherent in what her family was doing, but also by contemporary readers’ limited attempts to engage with it. If we take Laura’s fantasies about the dangers of the prairie at face value, we risk endorsing the violence of U.S. “manifest destiny,” fueled in part by colonial paranoia that “something was [always] creeping up behind.”  But when we gloss it over, we strip away the series’ most powerful critiques in order to craft an aura of homespun.

Laura most of all wants to “feel safe” on the frontier. From beginning to end her parents’ words and actions answer her desire with four necessities: Pa + dog + house + gun. In particular, Ma and Pa most often wield the gun as answer to the unsettling questions Laura repeatedly asks. If we take her insatiable questioning seriously, we see that this answer never satisfies, and it’s important to consider why. Pa and Ma (and, arguably, the series itself) celebrate the simplification provided by the gun, which flattens the prairie that Laura so fascinatingly sees as full of hollows and the unseen. What if, rather than accepting at face value or glossing over, we allowed Laura’s questions to bloom into critiques? Laura’s consciousness repeatedly trips the narrative and strains its message, in a way that exposes the book’s (and the audience’s) cowardice.

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CANCER FREE!!!  April 9, 1998-April 9, 2016-I AM A SURVIVOR!!!
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maria1
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PostSubject: Re: Laura Had a Feeling   Thu Oct 27, 2016 12:52 pm

nice painting.
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