The Little House Series - Main characters
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Laura Ingalls Wilder
The original pioneer girl and author of the first Little House Series.
- All Girls Like Ponies: One wonders if Almanzo could have courted her at all, without his horses. Lampshaded by Ma at one point:"Are you sure Laura? Sometimes, I think you care more for the horses, than you do for their master."
- Big Sister Instinct: Don't bully her little sister. Just don't.
- Inverted with Mary, Laura won't hesitate to save her big sister either.
- Brainy Brunette: Has roan brown hair and is very adept in her studies along with having smarts for the farm and wilderness.
- Chekhov's Skill : A meta example, in her ability to describe the things Mary can no longer see after she goes blind. Later, of course, she uses her descriptive skills to write the books.
- Daddy's Girl: Of all the Ingalls children, she is by far the closest to her father; they have an enduring bond and are very much the same in character, with Laura sharing his 'wandering spirit'. He nicknamed her 'Half-pint' and 'Flutterbudget'.
- Height Angst: Goes along with Pintsized Powerhouse below. Once she hits her teenage years, she often inwardly laments how little she is. It only gets worse when she goes to teach her first term of school: she's afraid her students won't mind her, because she's so small. As it turns out, she's right, though she manages to handle it.
- Outdoorsy Gal: Prefers working in the fields to staying inside.
- Pintsized Powerhouse: Laura was small even by the standards of her day, when people in general were shorter than they are now (she was barely five feet tall as an adult). Despite this, she's strong enough to rip the bolts out of a bench that had been fastened to the floor of her schoolhouse. She has no problem helping bring in the harvest or assisting Pa with construction on their various homes. On several occasions he calls her "strong as a little French horse."
- Plucky Girl: Has she ever been intimidated? Yes. Does this stop her from being her boisterous and outgoing self? No.
- Lady of Adventure: Has inherited her father's 'itching foot'.
- Real Women Have Curves: She is the protagonist the (mostly female) reader relates to and laments how she's pretty plump and sturdy as a "little French horse" compared to more delicate and willowy blondes like Nellie, even noting how her face is "all curves" like her body and is "well-developed", something that Garth Williams tends to highlight in his illustrations.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With Mary. Laura is active and adventurous, while Mary is gentle and passive.
- Textile Work Is Feminine: Subverted: though Laura earns money working as a seamstress several times, she hates sewing.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The tomboy to Mary's girly girl.
- What Beautiful Eyes!: Noted to have shining, vivid, and gorgeous blue even "violet" eyes.
- Look how Laura's eyes are shining.
Laura's husband and the main character of Farmer Boy
- Amazon Chaser: You get the impression that he likes Laura for her spirited temper (it seems to amuse him), and he's very indulgent of her more tomboyish tendencies. While Pa never let Laura ride or drive his horses because she might get hurt, Almanzo lets her drive all of his horses and buys her a pony just for fun. He's also respectful when she tells him she doesn't want to promise to obey him as part of their marriage vows, telling her that he'd never expect her to take the vow seriously even if she did say it, but agreeing to ask the preacher to leave it out anyway.
- Big Eater: In Farmer Boy, he tries to stuff himself in order to get big and strong. He has trouble finishing the food he piles onto his plate, however, and gets scolded by his father for being wasteful.
- Cool Horse: It's his horses, a pair of matched Morgans named Prince and Lady, that first catch Laura's attention. At a Fourth of July celebration in Little Town on the Prairie, he enters them in a buggy race despite not having a buggy and having to make do with a much heavier cart than any of the other competitors are driving... and wins.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Drives forty miles in a blizzard to bring Laura home for the weekend. After she's said she's not interested in him.
- The Determinator: Undertakes a perilous journey through the snow in order to find grain for the town.
- That's nothing. He continues to maintain both of his farms despite debilitating illness and suffers a stroke for it. And it still doesn't stop him from trying, even though he was historically dependent on a cane the rest of his life (which is never mentioned in the Rose books).
- Embarrassing First Name: He explains to Laura that it's a Wilder family tradition, derived from the name of a Moor ("Al-Manzoor" or something to that effect) who saved the life of one of his ancestors.
- Nice Guy: Refuses any pay for bringing back the wheat, and declines to buy any because he has enough supplies. He's also very thoughtful toward Laura, often bringing her gifts that will either lessen her workload, like progressively less dangerous stoves, or that he just thinks she'll like, like a swift riding pony or interesting plants and flowers.
- Those Two Guys : With his brother Royal, and often with Cap Garland.
- Vague Age : In The Long Winter he's said to be nineteen, to Laura's fourteen. In real life there was a ten year age difference between the two, which would make him 24. In later books the age difference is said to be eight years, while The First Four Years portrays their ages correctly as nineteen and twenty-nine.
Laura's father, known for his itching foot that sent the Ingalls family pioneering across America.
Caroline Quiner Ingalls
For tropes applying to Laura's mother Caroline see her character in the Little House Spin Off series folder.
Laura's older sister.
- Dumb Blonde: Averted. She is as intelligent as her hair is golden.
- Literal-Minded: More in the sense that she dislikes metaphors and similes rather than being unable to understand them.
- Laura: "Sheep sorrel tastes like springtime."Mary: "It really tastes a little like lemon flavoring, Laura."
- Proper Lady: Always perfectly demure and well-behaved. Laura, who is more spirited, always feels inferior as a result. Subverted when she and Laura talk about how Laura feels that Mary is perfect all the time, and Mary admits she's often angry and thinks horrible thoughts.
- Regal Ringlets: Perfectly curled hair and a perfectly prim and proper personality.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With Laura. Mary is pretty and ladylike, while Laura is energetic and somewhat rowdy.
- Stiff Upper Lip: Scarlet Fever? Check. Blindness? Check. Emotion....
- Textile Work Is Feminine: Accomplished seamstress and actually 'likes' it as well.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The girly girl to Laura's tomboy.
Laura's little sister, known as "Baby Carrie" up until Plum Creek or so. She's too young to be Laura's playmate, but she later comes to look up to and admire Laura, while Laura appreciates her company and matter-of-fact sense.
- Cool Big Sis: Views Laura as one.
- Ill Girl: The malnutrition the family faced during The Long Winter hits Carrie a lot harder than the rest of them; she was described as 'spindly' and 'delicate' beforehand, and remains sickly long after the others have recovered. She suffers frequently from what sound like migraines, and almost faints after standing too long at the blackboard in school. She doesn't appear to have fully recovered until the ending of These Happy Golden Years — almost four years later. (She lived to be seventy-five, and was known to have moved around a bit trying to find a climate to better her health.)
- Shrinking Violet: While Laura and Mary are both rather shy, they hide it better than Carrie does.
Laura's baby sister. Grace was only eight or so when Laura married and left home, so she never featured heavily in the books. Rose describes her as 'jolly' in On the Way Home, and when she isn't acting rather spoiled, she is a lot like Laura.
Almanzo's older brother. He hassles Almanzo somewhat, but they get along well. Unlike Almanzo, he has no love for the hard work involved in farming and decides to become a storekeeper. Royal moves to De Smet about the same time Almanzo and Eliza Jane do, and owns the town's feed store.
- Adventure Rebuff: When Almanzo initially proposes going to find the wheat, Royal wants to be the one to go with him, but Almanzo says one of them has to survive for their parents' sakes.
- The Caretaker: When Laura and Almanzo come down with diphtheria, he's the one who comes out from town to nurse them, figuring that he's single and there's no one he can spread it to.
- Those Two Guys: He and Almanzo sometimes come across as such, from Laura's point of view.
- We Named the Monkey "Jack": Twice. First, Almanzo names a mule "Roy" after him, probably meant to be unflattering. Later, he names a colt "Royal," saying that Royal was the crown prince of his family and that this colt would be so of the Wilders' horses— this was probably meant to be flattering.
Eliza Jane Wilder Thayer
Almanzo's bossy older sister, and later, Laura's detested school teacher, and later still, Rose's devoted old aunt.
- Composite Character: The younger Eliza Jane as presented in Farmer Boy is a combination of Almanzo's older sisters Laura Ann and Eliza Jane, the former of whom was Adapted Out due to the One Steve Limit. The Eliza Jane who appears in Little Town is the real Eliza Jane...but the Eliza Jane in These Happy Golden Years who plans to travel west and take over Almanzo and Laura's wedding was likely Laura Ann.
- Cool Aunt: To Rose, as she's much more modern and forward thinking than Laura and Almanzo, who are generally content with things as they are. While Rose grew up on her mother's stories of homesteading with her family, E.J. homesteaded as a single woman.
- Embarrassing First Name: Not at first, but when she was a child, she caught head lice from another girl at school, and the other children took to calling her "Lazy, lousy, Lizzie Jane". Possibly why she went by E.J. as an adult
- Doting Parent: To her son, Wilder Thayer, and to Rose when she lives with her during high school.
- Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Her attempt to teach the De Smet school are an unmitigated disaster: she goes for a Tastes Like Diabetes approach with a bunch of hard-working frontier kids (which ends exactly as well as you'd expect), listens unquestioningly to the gossip of one of her students (and doesn't bother to verify any of it), abuses Carrie to punish Laura's perceived faults while trying to stay sweet as pie to the other students...it's no wonder she only managed one term.
Almanzo's other older sister, and the sibling he's closest to. Very fond of her hair ribbons.
- Cool Big Sis: She is probably Almanzo's favorite sibling.
- Tomboy with a Girly Streak: She likes playing outside with her little brother and helping with the farm chores, but when Almanzo asks if she wouldn't rather be a boy, with less restrictions on behavior, she eventually tells him no."Boys aren't pretty like girls are, and they can't wear hair ribbons."
The Little House Spin Off Series - Main Characters
Laura's daughter and main character of the spin off series 'The Rose Years'.
- Brainy Brunette: Like her Mother, Grandmother, and Great-Grandmother, she is a very studious and thoughtful pupil and does become a writer in her own right.
- Child Prodigy: Combines three years of Latin study into one.
- Determined Homesteader's Children
- Only Child Syndrome: The sole protagonist with no siblings, which is quite a contrast to her parents— Laura had three sisters while Almanzo had three sisters and two brothers.
- Plucky Girl
- The Smart Girl
Caroline Quiner Ingalls
Laura's mother and main character of the spin off series The Caroline Years about her childhood on the Western frontier.
- Brainy Brunette: Was a schoolteacher, a scholar, and even utilizes her smarts to make a great variety of food and help run the farm.
- Beware of the Nice Ones: Gentle, ladylike Ma shocks Laura when she remarks with unusual fierceness that Almanzo, who is courting Laura, is likely to get Laura's neck broken driving her around behind half-trained horses and she hopes he breaks his own first. Ouch.
- Determined Homesteader's Wife: Practically the trope namer.
- Determined Homesteader's Children: Like her daughter she grew up on the Western Frontier.
- Country Mouse: When she visits her aunt and uncle in the city. She grows out of it though.
- Parents as People: Laura didn't sugar coat the fact that sweet, gentle Ma was also unabashedly racist when it came to Native Americans.
- She also inadvertently encouraged a competition between Mary and Laura, telling them to ask their teenage aunt whether she likes golden or brown curls the best/asking them if they're going to give they're beads to Baby Carrie.
- Plucky Girl: The death of her father, moving across Wisconsin, new changes, moving around the wilderness, a long winter, starvation, and a loose log don't keep Ma down very long.
- Proper Lady: As a child and later, an adult. Laura comments on it frequently.
- Schoolmarm: Unlike her daughter, she genuinely loved teaching, and giving it up to get married and follow Charles wherever he wandered was a difficult decision.
- The Smart Girl: The most intelligent of her sisters and even goes to the city to further her studies.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Seems sweet as pie at first glance... then you realize she's spent her life hiking across the Wild West, facing Indians, wolves and bandits.
- Textile Work Is Feminine: Subverted. Although she's an accomplished seamstress, she actually hates sewing as much as Laura.
Laura's grandmother and main character of the spin-off series The Charlotte Years, about her childhood in Boston.
- Brainy Brunette: Has dark, curly hair and is a very studious pupil who becomes both a top-notch dressmaker and a determined homesteader and single mom.
- Determined Homesteader's Wife: Or just determined homesteader, as she is a single mother (on the Western frontier no less). This pushes her to become a...
- Determined Widow
- Massive Numbered Siblings: If you can track down a late-'90s/early 2000s printing of the spin-off books, with an unabridged family tree, Charlotte had by far the most siblings of any of the protagonists, though many died young.
- Plucky Girl: Encouraged by her mother, and passed on to her daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughter.
- Regal Ringlets: Her curls are from her Mother, but they're more controlled and girly than her boisterous mother's ever were.
- Textile Work Is Feminine: The sole Little House protaganist who enjoys sewing.
Laura's great grandmother and main character of the spin off series The Martha Years about her childhood in Scotland.
- Feminine Women Can Cook: Averted. Martha is a complete Tomboy despite being an excellent cook. Ironically its her older sister Proper Lady Grisie who struggles in the kitchen.
- Fiery Red Head: In spades.
- Hot-Blooded: Martha's temper causes several...issues during the series. (Like scaring her governess out of a job).
- Lady of Adventure: Emigrates to America in the 1700's despite having a comfortable and wealthy life in Scotland.
- Marry for Love: Is determined to do this even as a child. In the next series when we see her as Charlotte's mother and Happily Married to Lew it's clear she was successful.
- Outdoorsy Gal: Is increasingly frustrated as she is forced to stay inside, instead of exploring the Scottish highlands.
- Plucky Girl: Hey, it had to start somewhere.
- Quirky Curls: Has wild curly hair that's hard to brush and a fiery personality.
- Rebellious Spirit: Martha does not appreciate being told what to do.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With older sister Grisie. See Tomboy and Girly Girl for more details.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: With Lew. She's the daughter of a wealthy landowner, he's the local blacksmith. Historically it is established fact her parents disapproved of the match and probably a major reason they emigrated to America to get married.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tomboy to Grisie's girly girl. Martha likes footracing and playing with the village boys. Grisie prefers to stay inside sewing.
- Uptown Girl: Again for Lew, as Martha is the daughter of a landowner and he's working class.