Content Note: Depression, Religion, Corporal Punishment, Racism
Chapter 5! Which was, and still is, my personal vision of Hell.
Because Chapter 5 describes the Sunday routine. Which, I must remind you, comes every seven days.
One seventh of your lifetime is spent on Sundays. Yuck.
I have a complicated relationship with Sundays. When I was a child, Sunday was emphatically not a day of rest. There was waking up early to do, and getting cleaned and fed, and dressed in clothes that were horrifically painful (I have very sensitive skin and it took about a decade for my mother to accept that certain types of fabrics and clothing schemes literally cause me pain), and driven to church. Church meant Sunday School and then Sermon, followed by a quick lunch, maybe an hour of play time, and then back to church again for Choir Practice and Sermon some more. This was not restful in the least.
Now Sundays are a day of rest, but not one of relaxation. Sundays bring a lot of guilt and anxious reflection to my life; Sundays are when one is "supposed" to be having fun, but there's the ever-looming threat of Monday and stress hanging over everything and the more you don't do what you're "supposed" to do, the more you feel damaged and guilty. And the more you feel damaged and guilty, the more tempted you are to self-reflect on what is wrong with you that you feel this way and ... yeah.
So when Douglas Adams talked about the long, dark, Sunday afternoon, tea-time of the soul, I GET THAT.
Anyway. Sundays are SACRED, so there is nothing allowed to be done that day in Laura's daily routine except look at dolls -- not play, look -- and read the one childrens' books in the entire house.
Every seventh day.
For the rest of her life.
SCARY TWILIGHT MUSIC HERE.
Also, go read this freaking awesome blog post that was linked in the comments. It's very perspective-inducing. I loved it.
On Sundays Mary and Laura must not run or shout or be noisy in their play. Mary could not sew on her nine-patch quilt, and Laura could not knit on the tiny mittens she was making for Baby Carrie. They might look quietly at their paper dolls, but they must not make anything new for them. They were not allowed to sew on doll clothes, not even with pins.
They must sit quietly and listen while Ma read Bible stories to them, or stories about lions and tigers and white bears from Pa’s big green book, The Wonders of the Animal World. They might look at pictures, and they might hold their rag dolls nicely and talk to them. But there was nothing else they could do.
Anyway. Laura gets fussy and Pa decides to entertain her with a story about how things really used to be way way worse. And it's a hilarious story -- Pa's grandfather and his brothers sneak out of the house on Sunday to ride their sled and accidentally scoop up a horrified, squealing wild hog on the journey and their father witnesses the whole thing.
“WHEN your Grandpa was a boy, Laura, Sunday did not begin on Sunday morning, as it does now. It began at sundown on Saturday night. Then everyone stopped every kind of work or play.
“Supper was solemn. After supper, Grandpa’s father read aloud a chapter of the Bible, while everyone sat straight and still in his chair. Then they all knelt down, and their father said a long prayer. When he said, “Amen,” they got up from their knees and each took a candle and went to bed. They must go straight to bed, with no playing, laughing, or even talking.
“Sunday morning they ate a cold breakfast, because nothing could be cooked on Sunday. Then they all dressed in their best clothes and walked to church. They walked, because hitching up the horses was work, and no work could be done on Sunday.
“They must walk slowly and solemnly, looking straight ahead. They must not joke or laugh, or even smile. Grandpa and his two brothers walked ahead, and their father and mother walked behind them.
DOESN'T THAT SOUND LIKE FUN?
“Then just as the sled was swooping toward the house, a big black pig stepped out of the woods. He walked into the middle of the road and stood there.
“The sled was going so fast it couldn’t be stopped. There wasn’t time to turn it. The sled went right under the hog and picked him up. With a squeal he sat down on James, and he kept on squealing, long and loud and shrill, ‘Squee-ee-ee-ee-ee! Squee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee!’
“They flashed by the house, the pig sitting in front, then James, then George, then Grandpa, and they saw their father standing in the doorway looking at them. They couldn’t stop, they couldn’t hide, there was no time to say anything. Down the hill they went, the hog sitting on James and squealing all the way.
[...] “But when the sun went down and the Sabbath day was over, their father took them out to the woodshed and tanned their jackets, first James, then George, then Grandpa.
“So you see, Laura and Mary,” Pa said, “you may find it hard to be good, but you should be glad that it isn’t as hard to be good now as it was when Grandpa was a boy.”
“Did little girls have to be as good as that?” Laura asked, and Ma said:
“It was harder for little girls. Because they had to behave like little ladies all the time, not only on Sundays. Little girls could never slide downhill, like boys. Little girls had to sit in the house and stitch on samplers.”
And so ... yeah.
Then it's Laura's birthday and she has a ceremonial spanking.
Chapters so far: 5. Mentions of corporal punishment: 4. (Technically there have been 5 mentions, but we won't count that Laura dreaded a spanking for being fussy on Sunday since she didn't actually receive one.)
And then Chapter 5 ends with a song about a "darkey" named Uncle Ned. Considering that there is apparently only one black person in this entire series and thus the books have been vigorously white-washed because black people did actually exist in many of the places where the Ingalls lived, I ... yeah.