Chapter 2 is one of those "life in the days of", which actually I guess all the chapters are, but we get to follow Mary and Laura through the chores, and we also hear Ma's poem about work days. And Baby Carrie gets her first off-hand mention.
After this was done, Ma began the work that belonged to that day. Each day had its own proper work. Ma used to say:
“Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday.”
Laura liked the churning and the baking days best of all the week.
We also get a story about a panther leaping on a horse and tearing its back off. Neat! What a neat story! Ha. Which brings me to a question, or rather a problem that I personally have going through these books: I DO NOT UNDERSTAND NINETEENTH CENTURY AMERICA ECONOMICS.
How wealthy are the Ingalls? They have horses and cows and a pig every year. They seem to have more than enough salt to pack everything nice and tight and you never see any food spoiling. Pa has shiny silver bear traps, Ma has a butter churn and butter pat set-up that turns out strawberry-shaped butter pats (and she can afford to waste a carrot on churning day to make the butter yellow and pretty), and they have nice stiff paper to wrap meat in and to make paper dolls and paper clothes for the girls to play with. They also put little bits of red flannel in the kerosene lamp to make it pretty. Oh, and they have kerosene and fiddles.
I have no idea what sort of economic state we're looking at, but the Ingalls seem relatively comfortable? Maybe? And yet Laura doesn't have a rag doll. Her sister Mary does, but Laura has to make do with a corncob. What?
I do not understand this. I've done the quilting thing and the sewing thing and the doll making thing and the clothes making thing, okay? I've done that. I've made rag dolls. A little rag doll for a 3 year old is nothing. Some scraps, bits and pieces that are too small to use in anything else. You can put it together in a day, maybe two, and then the little kid has something cuddly and soft and All Their Very Own to treasure and take care of. Why does this not exist for Laura?
I initially thought that the Ingalls were too poor, and that every scrap in the house had to go into clothing and bedding and rags for rinsing pig fat off your hands. But they've got pieces of flannel in the kerosene to make it pretty. A story about a horse being killed by a panther is treated as a major nuisance, and not a financial hardship. Even if they inherited their butter pats and fiddles, and their animals and vegetable garden are in some kind of self-perpetuating breeding state, they don't have the quarter yard of fabric to make their daughter a rag doll??
I just think it's strange.