Little House: Let's Read Big Woods, Chapter 8

Little House in the Big Woods: Chapter 8

Chapter 8 is the best chapter as far as I'm concerned. There is nothing not good in Chapter 8. It has everything: food porn, dancing, food porn, jigging, and food porn.

Well, there's corsets. That scares me. But other than that.

   Laura loved Grandma’s house. It was much larger than their house at home. There was one great big room, and then there was a little room that belonged to Uncle George, and there was another room for the aunts, Aunt Docia and Aunt Ruby. And then there was the kitchen, with a big cookstove.

THREE ROOMS. Four if you count the kitchen. (Have you read this yet? It's awesome.)

And then there is Uncle George, who seems sweet and whom I envision as Terry Bellefleur (i.e., The Best Character Ever) from True Blood.

   Uncle George was home from the army. He wore his blue army coat with the brass buttons, and he had bold, merry blue eyes. He was big and broad and he walked with a swagger.
   Laura looked at him all the time she was eating her hasty pudding, because she had heard Pa say to Ma that he was wild.
   “George is wild, since he came back from the War,” Pa had said, shaking his head as if he were sorry, but it couldn’t be helped. Uncle George had run away to be a drummer boy in the army, when he was fourteen years old.

As a child, I assume George ran away because that was the hip, with-it thing to do. Now in light of all the corporal punishment around here, I have to wonder. Poor George. But I'm ... glad that his family seems nice and kind in light of whatever issues he does or doesn't have? Like, it's nice to see a disability treated with kindness and understanding in a classic literature book, since usually we instead get horror stories about how badly people with mental diseases were treated. So yay for that, I guess? (I say "I guess" because this is the only thing we see of Uncle George so it's possible there's a bigger picture here that I don't know about. But in the book, he seems respected and cared for, so that is a good thing.)

Then there are corsets.

   Then they pulled on their beautiful white stockings, that they had knit of fine cotton thread in lacy, openwork patterns, and they buttoned up their best shoes. They helped each other with their corsets. Aunt Docia pulled as hard as she could on Aunt Ruby’s corset strings, and then Aunt Docia hung on to the foot of the bed while Aunt Ruby pulled on hers.
   “Pull, Ruby, pull!” Aunt Docia said, breathless. “Pull harder.” so Aunt Ruby braced her feet and pulled harder. Aunt Docia kept measuring her waist with her hands, and at last she gasped, “I guess that’s the best you can do.”
   She said, “Caroline says Charles could span her waist with his hands, when they were married.”
   Caroline was Laura’s Ma, and when she heard this Laura felt proud.

True fact: when you have scoliosis, corsets are the stuff of nightmares and terror. 'Nuff said about that, I guess.

Anyway! There is dancing while Pa fiddles and calls out the dancing instructions to everyone. Grandma is pulled into the room and engages in a jigging battle with Uncle George, and the whole thing seems sweet and spirited and nice. Grandma wins, because she is BADASS. I won't quote it all here because it's a long scene, but it's probably my favorite part of the book. Here's a piece:

   Grandma kept on jigging. Her hands were on her hips and her chin was up and she was smiling. George kept on jigging, but his boots did not thump as loudly as they had thumped at first. Grandma’s heels kept on clickety-clacking gaily. A drop of sweat dripped off George’s forehead and shone on his cheek.
   All at once he threw up both arms and gasped, “I’m beat!” He stopped jigging.
   Everybody made a terrific noise, shouting and yelling and stamping, cheering Grandma. Grandma jigged just a little minute more, then she stopped. She laughed in gasps. Her eyes sparkled just like Pa’s when he laughed. George was laughing, too, and wiping his forehead on his sleeve.

And then there is food porn and candy and more food porn and then everyone goes home. Goodbye, Sugar Snow!


PXL said...

Couldn't George having been "wild" been a reference to, I dunno, vice or carousing or some such? The guy had been in the army for awhile, and it's likely he picked up a "bad habit" or two during his service... I guess I'm not sure what it is here that unequivocally points to Uncle George having mental illness, I guess. Perhaps I don't remember this chapter as well as I think I do, however.

Post a Comment