Sarah, Plain and Tall

by Patricia MacLachlan

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What qualities is Papa seeking in a wife in "Sarah, Plain and Tall"?

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In the book 'Sarah Plain and Tall, the author shows how a father and his two children try to cope with the lonesome issues of life after a mother dies. The father decides eventually that there are no suitable ladies nearby that might serve as a mother figure. He also decides that he himself can be alone no longer and that he should advertise for a partner.

Papa wants several qualities in his new 'wife.' She must be a good housekeeper--a hard worker who brings order, calm and serenity to the house--and be healthy and strong as there is outdoor ranch-style work too. She must also be of excellent character, otherwise she can't raise his children decently, and she must be caring. She must be motherly so that she can be a good mother for Caleb and Anna.

He is also lonely so he needs someone who will be a good match for his personality--for example she must bring 'song' to the house. He gave up the singing that he loved after his first wife died because it was singing as a family that he loved the most. He is hoping that a new wife will be sensitive and encouraging of that.

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