Where do you think the climax occurs in Little House in the Big Woods?

Expert Answers

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The climax of a literary work usually coincides with a high point of emotional intensity. In Little House in the Big Woods, a series of loose episodes following an entire year in the life of the young Laura Ingalls through the four seasons, one could argue that the climax comes at the end. In the final chapter we are back to fall, where the book opened.

Laura is in bed, listening to Pa playing his fiddle. She asks him what the words of the song he is singing, "Auld Lang Syne," mean. He tells her they mean the days of long ago. The climax occurs as little Laura, lying in bed, muses about time:

She thought to herself, "This is now."

She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.

Of course, as we know from the beginning of the book, everything that has happened in the book, including this moment, happened a long time ago. Time doesn't stop moving. Whatever "now" we are experiencing will inevitably one day be long ago, and Laura's thoughts are therefore ironic. As the story closes, we feel the poignance and power of this moment, both immediately present in the story and yet far away in time.

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