During the scene around the dinner table, Charles mentions that he quit school to go to work when he was twelve, but that he had to do it because he was "the man of the house" and was expected to support his family. But in Season 3's Journey in the Spring, we are introduced to Charles' parents, who are happily married, even though the husband was always a self-pitying downer. We know from this episode that Lansford was clearly in his son Charles' life as a child, and furthermore, Charles has an older brother named Peter, so if any of the Ingalls boy were the "man of the house," it was older child Peter.
Reply: True, but in Season 3's Journey in the Spring, Part 1, we met Peter as an adult, and it was clear that he was very bitter and resentful toward their father. It's reasonable to believe, then, that Peter had that anger when they were kids, forcing Charles to step up and be the mature one.
After being tricked by Nellie, Laura angrily informs her that the examination was "all history." ALL history?? This may just be nitpicking, but I think what she meant to say was "a lot of history." Surely the whole thing wasn't just that subject area.
Even considering everything, it's a little unrealistic that the super-gentlemanly Almanzo would drive Laura home after the fight with Nellie and leave Nellie just sitting there in the mud.
This is the second time in the series that Laura is forced to humble herself to Nellie Oleson and apologize to her. The first time was in Season 5's Fagin. However, in this episode, Laura is clearly the one at fault, doing something to Nellie when Nellie hadn't done anything to her at that exact time. This wasn't the case in Fagin, when Nellie had it coming.
Reality is suspended a great deal in this 2-part episode, regarding the Laura/Nellie relationship. In Part 1, Laura sweetly offers to cook Nellie a full dinner for her and Almanzo. Then, in Part 2, Nellie acts all friendly and agrees to loan Laura the books for the exam--and give her some "advice" about the actual test. Given the negative history that these two girls have with each other, I find it incredibly hard to believe that either of them would be so stupid as to think that the other would do something so amicably for them. Laura, especially, should have known that after deliberately ruining Nellie's dinner with Almanzo, Nellie would absolutely have a revenge plot of her own. This could be considered nitpicking, though.
When Harriet brings Nellie into the restaurant after the infamous mud fight with Laura, Nellie is immersed in mud from head to toe--there is absolutely nothing but mud showing on her body. However, when Laura left Nellie after the fight, Nellie was not covered quite that much. Granted, Nellie did thrash around in the mud afterward, but still, she would have had to practically dunk herself completely under in order to look the way she did when Harriet brought her into the restaurant.
Laura: (overvoice) I took Ma's advice and didn't say anything more about Almanzo. I guess I knew I'd always be Hafe-Pint to Pa, but I was just as sure that I would someday be Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Laura: You were out on your own, and working, when you were 12.
Albert: You did say that, Pa.
Charles: Albert, you're not in this conversation.
Albert: Yes, sir.
Charles: It was different for me. I was a man, I was supposed to go out and support the family.
Caroline: Now, wait just a minute. I do agree that it's a little early for Laura to be teaching, but not because she's a woman. Now, I know this is a sore spot with you, Charles, but a woman is supporting this family right now.
Albert: That is true, Pa......
Charles: Albert, please!
Nellie: Oh, hello, Laura. How did the test go?
Laura: (through clenched teeth) It was all history.
Nellie: You're joking!
Laura: Miss Wilder says they're always all history.
Nellie: Really? (smiles smugly) Well, now that I thin back.....I guess there was more history on it than I thought. I hope you're not angry.
Laura: Why should I be? It wasn't on purpose, was it?
Nellie: Of course not.
Laura: Well, neither is this! (grabs Nellie around the neck and drags her toward mud)
Nellie: Aaah! Ah, you wouldn't dare!
Laura: You bet I will! (throws her in)
Charles: (after punching Almanzo) I'm really sorry, Mr. Wilder. My wife told me not to act with haste, and I did.
Almanzo: That's okay. If I had a little girl, I'd probably have done the same thing.
Laura: Stop it, all of you. Stop calling me a little girl--and talking about me like I'm not even here! I'm a woman--a woman! And I hate all of you!
Laura: Oh, and one more thing, Pa. When we're around other folks, would you please call me Laura or Beth instead of Half-Pint?
Charles: (long pause) Sure....of course. If that's what you want.
Laura: Thanks, Pa.
Charles: Of course, we're not around other folks now, so finish eating your greens, Half-Pint!
Caroline: (about the graduation exam) Laura, you don't even have all of this year's books yet. How are you going to study something you don't have? There's no way we can afford them right now.
Laura: Well, Nellie just took the exam, she has all the books. I could ask her to loan them to me.
Albert: You would go begging to Nellie?
Laura: I would if I had to. I want to be a teacher.
Caroline: You and your Pa....so much alike. You're a girl trying to act like a woman, and he's a man acting like a boy. The only difference is, he'd be the first to admit it.
Laura: But it's different for me.
Caroline: How? Laura, look at me. How is it different for you?
Laura: Because I love Almanzo.
Laura: Ma? I'm going to make Almanzo see me as a woman someday, because I love him.
Caroline: I know you will. But I wouldn't tell your father that just yet.
Laura: First I failed the test, then Pa hitting Almanzo, then the two of them calling me a little girl....it was awful!
Caroline: Well, aren't you?
Laura: Aren't I what?
Caroline: A little girl. Aren't you a little girl?
Caroline: Then stop acting like one.
Laura: It was the test. Nellie told me there wasn't any history on it, and it was all history, and she knew it!
Almanzo: Oh. So you didn't do so well then, huh?
Laura: I did awful.
Almanzo: Well, it's not the end of the world. You can take the test again. My sister had to take that test three times before she passed it. Three times!
Almanzo: Yes. And she felt bad about it, too. But she didn't give up. She kept right on working until she got it down. That's a good test for people--lets them find out what they're made of. You seem like the kind of person who wouldn't give up, no matter what.
Charles: All right, Mr. Wilder. Now, suppose you explain to me how my daughter ended up here, in your house, wearing your robe! Maybe you'd like to explain that to me!
Laura: Pa, I got in a fight, and I got wet. Almanzo was just being nice!
Charles: Oh, and I suppose he was "just being nice" when he kissed you, huh?
Laura: On the forehead, for luck on my test!
Almanzo: Yes, sir. You didn't think that I would--why, Beth's just a little girl!
Laura: Almanzo doesn't call me Half-Pint.
Charles: Oh, Almanzo?
Laura: Yeah. He calls me Beth. It's a woman's nickname.
Laura: You never gave Mary a silly nickname like Half-Pint.
Charles: I never thought it was a silly nickname. Besides that, Mary's older.
Laura: Not that much older.
Charles: She's a grown woman, she's a teacher--
Laura: I'm gonna be a teacher!
Charles: Okay, well, when you're a teacher, I'm sure everyone will treat you like an adult. But for right now, you're my little girl, and you've living under our roof, and as long as you do you're gonna do what your Ma and I tell you--starting with apologizing to Almanzo.
Caroline:(after charles comes in from going to Almonzo's house) What happend?
Charles:(sheepishly) I reacted with haste...
Caroline: Oh Charles!
Charles: Now the one thing my little girl can do is own up to her punishment.
Laura: I'm not afraid of being punished, but I'm not a little girl. Why does everyone keep calling me a little girl?
Caroline: Charles, don't do anything in haste!
Charles: Haste? Oh, no, Caroline, I won't do anything in haste. I'll take all the time in the world to beat Almanzo Wilder within an inch of his life!
Alison Arngrim (Nellie) has discussed in previous interviews the famous mud fight scene with Melissa Gilbert (Laura). Arngrim has often mentioned how physically strong Gilbert was in real life, and not only did she really thrash Arngrim around, but Arngrim vividly remembers how Gilbert's hand came around suddenly and got her right in the mouth with a handful of mud!
Mrs. Oleson and Nellie Oleson are credited as guests stars in this episode.
As Nellie lies in the mud, kicking and screaming in anger after her big fight with Laura, the viewer can hear a heavily orchestrated, yet campy version of the tune "Wait 'Til the Sun Shines, Nellie" as the background music. This song is an "old standard" and an American classic, but it wasn't written until 1905, so it's technically out of place here.
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