Sarah, Plain and Tall

by Patricia MacLachlan

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 238

1. The prairie and its changing seasons and weather play an important role in the novel. Discuss how the weather and seasons affect events and how they reflect the characters' actions and emotions.

2. What did farm children do for fun in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? What were some of their favorite games? What were their toys? How did children on remote midwestern farms get their schooling?

3. Research the everyday life of a farm woman during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. What were the most difficult aspects of this life? In what ways was prairie life rewarding or unrewarding?

4. It is very important to Anna, Caleb, and Papa that they form a traditional family unit that includes a mother. How important was the family unit to people living on prairie farms in Sarah's day? Is the basic family unit of father, mother, and children still important on midwestern farms?

5. The children like to sing and value Sarah's singing to them. How important was singing for pleasure in the days before radios, television, and the movies? What sort of songs would people sing in their own homes? Be sure to cite some examples; they do not have to be famous songs. Quote a few lines to give your reader a good idea of what you are talking about. If you make this an oral report, try singing or playing a few bars on a musical instrument.

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