Laura Ingalls Wilder Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Laura Ingalls Wilder shows that life on the frontier demanded stamina and courage in the face of harsh weather, hard work, and isolation. What do the Ingallses do to keep their spirits up?

How important was neighborliness to pioneer families? How was it defined?

Laura and Mary show different attitudes toward pioneer life. How does each girl’s personality equip her to succeed? Which one seems more likely to succeed? Why?

What attitudes toward American Indians are expressed by members of the Ingalls family?

Define a good citizen on the frontier. Are such qualities important today? Why?

Discuss the difficulty of acquiring an education in early frontier settlements.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Anderson, William. Laura Ingalls Wilder Country. New York: Harper, 1990. A photographic essay, this attractive book illustrates the lives of the Ingalls and Wilder families and people they knew. Included are pictures of the places where the Ingalls lived during Wilder’s childhood, including markers and replicas of some of their cabins. Also contains a map and a chronology.

Anderson, William. Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Biography. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. A comprehensive biography by a noted Wilder historian.

Holtz, William. The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1993. This 425-page biography of Wilder’s daughter contains extensive discussions on the relationship between the mother and daughter, including the collaborative effort involved in publishing the Little House books.

Miller, Dwight M. Laura Ingalls Wilder and the American Frontier: Five Perspectives. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2002. A collection of essays resulting from a symposium on Wilder.

Miller, John E. Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman Behind the Legend. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998. A thorough biography that looks at Wilder’s life between the years captured in her novels and her apotheosis as a beloved children’s writer.

Miller, John E. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little Town: Where History and Literature Meet. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1994. A literary analysis of Wilder’s books as history, focusing on life in De Smet. The author examines themes such as place and community in De Smet and love and affection in the writing and life of Wilder, and compares the prairie depicted by Wilder and artist Harvey Dunn.

Romines, Ann. Constructing the Little House: Gender, Culture, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997. A feminist analysis of Wilder’s works.

Spaeth, Janet. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Spaeth’s book identifies themes in the Little House books such as family folklore, the woman’s role in the family, and the representation of Wilder’s growth through languages.

Wolf, Virginia L. Little House on the Prairie: A Reader’s Companion. New York: Twayne, 1996. Examines the Little House books thematically.

Zochert, Donald. Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1976. A full-length biography.