Little House on the Prairie

Season 1 Episode 20

Child of Pain

1
Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Feb 12, 1975 on NBC
6.7
out of 10
User Rating
72 votes
2

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
When a young boy named Graham Stewart arrives at school every day with various bruises, nobody has the courage to do anything until his alcoholic father almost kills him in a drunken rage. The Walnut Grove community is reluctant to help, but Caroline encourages them to do it for the child's sake. While Graham boards with Caroline and the girls, Charles moves in with John to help him become sober. Information is gathered from both sides about John's genuine (and somewhat unconscious) feelings for his son.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • A difficult subject in any era.

    8.9
    It is hard to understand, yet very true, that an abused child does not want to be removed from his abusive situation. It is all the child knows and even as bad as things are, they prefer the known (abuse) to the unknown. This is no exception to the little boy in this episode who is being abused by a father who blames the child for his wife's death (she died giving birth to him). Though the father loves his son, he drinks to forget the pain of losing his wife, and when he drinks, he becomes mean and beats his little boy. As happens in real life, the abuse only worsens as time goes on until the boy nearly dies. At this point, the community comes together to confront the dad.



    Charles, much to his chagrin, gets put in charge of drying out the dad and showing him if he doesn't clean up his act, he will lose his son forever. The road is difficult and there are many times Charles would prefer to just leave the guy to rot and return to his own family than to put up with the hidden bottles of booze and the lousy, thankless attitude. With time, the father sobers up, acknowledges to himself that he was blaming the son, and promises to love his boy the way he always should have. Abuse is a very serious problem and it was good to see the community recognizing it as such.moreless
  • The premise and concept of this one was excellent; the execution of it, not so good ...

    6.0
    It is always hurtful and disturbing to see a child being mistreated. We are rightly appalled, as are the citizens of Walnut Grove when a young boy from their town is found to be the recipient of regular beatings by his alcoholic father. Miss Beadle shows the latest round of horrific bruises (a bad make-up job here) to Doc Baker and Charles. A town meeting is called and it is decided that something must be done in order to possibly save the boy's life.



    While young Graham goes to stay with Caroline and the girls, Charles sets up house with his father and proceeds to 'dry him out', which, due to the time constraints of televison, seems to be achieved almost overnight, and as father and son are re-united, all is right with the world. Kudos to Michael Landon for addressing such a vital issue. What a pity the script and line delivery weren't better to get the point across more clearly.moreless
Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Dabbs Greer

Dabbs Greer

Reverend Alden

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Karl Swenson

Karl Swenson

Mr. Lars Hanson (1974 - 1978)

Harris Yulin

Harris Yulin

John Stewart

Guest Star

Johnny Lee

Johnny Lee

Graham Stewart

Guest Star

Wayne Heffley

Wayne Heffley

Mr. Kennedy

Guest Star

Alison Arngrim

Alison Arngrim

Nellie Oleson

Recurring Role

Jonathan Gilbert

Jonathan Gilbert

Willie Oleson

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (5)

    • Notice the scene where Charles goes into the barn and sees the father pouring out the alcohol. The same shot is shown twice when the father goes into his speech saying "Just in time. That's my hold out bottle. This is the one i didnt tell you about..."

    • Notice the clothes that Caroline, her daughters, and Graham are wearing in the scene where they are eating chicken pot pie for dinner. They are all the exact same clothes that they are wearing in the next scene, which takes place the next day as the kids get ready for school. It's very likely that these scenes were shot at the same time, even though they were supposed to be a day apart.
      Reply: It's important to note that frontier people had very few clothes, and that doing laundry was no easy task. It would have been common for people to wear outfits for several days in a row, until they were officially "dirty" enough to be washed. If anything, the girls changing clothes regularly would be considering inaccurate.

    • Notice Nellie's hair in the second scene of the episode, in the classroom, when all the kids are staring at Graham. Nellie's hair is impeccably curly. The ringlets are perfectly placed, and so are her hair ribbons. Very rarely has her hair looked this perfect on camera. Back in the first year of the series, when Alison Arngrim didn't have a wig yet and was forced to curl her hair every single day for the role, it didn't come out as nicely as this too often. Arngrim has recalled how the often hot and sticky filming days caused her hair to be less than cooperative, which was why they finally decided it was best to get a wig.

    • At the very end of the episode, right before Charles comes home, Caroline is inside with the kids, and Mary is wearing a pink dress with a purple pinafore over it. In the very next scene, though, when everyone goes outside to watch Graham reunite with his father, Mary has the pink dress only, and the pinafore seems to have vanished.

    • The 1970s were a time when people were beginning to talk openly about social issues, particularly family problems that had previously been considered private. This is one of many episodes to deal with such issues. However, in an historical context, it is unlikely that, despite Charles' threat, Graham would have been taken away from his father due to the beatings. Individual neighbors, schools and other public institutions did not interfere in cases of domestic violence in those days (that has only been a relatively recent change).
      Reply: This is true, and when you watch the episode, notice that Charles and the other adults do recognize that taking Graham away from his abusive father is beyond their control. Charles and Doc Baker say more than once that John is the boy's father, and there's nothing that can be done.

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Charles: I sure do miss my wife. When did you lose yours?
      John: A long time ago.
      Charles: What was her name?
      John: Lucy.
      Charles: What did she die of?
      John: What's the difference?
      Charles: None to me. I just wondered. What did she die of?
      John: (long pause) She died giving birth to the boy.
      Charles: I guess that's why you blame him for her death, huh?
      John: Why I what?
      Charles: You heard me. Why you blame him for your wife's death.
      John: I don't blame him!
      Charles: Well, of course you blame him. You tell him that every time you beat him. Every time you're drunk, you tell him that. You tell him he's the reason his mother died.
      John: That's not true.
      Charles: Well, of course it is. He's not gonna lie about it. You blame him, don't you?

    • Charles: (to Graham's drunken father) Now, you listen to me! I went out to your place an hour ago and found your son lying unconscious behind a table! Are you gonna tell me he did that to himself?
      John: I don't believe that--
      Charles: You don't remember! What, somebody else went out there, tore up your house, and beat up your son?
      John: (near tears) I don't remember.
      Charles: Well, maybe you ought to see for yourself! (shows John his son lying unconscious)

    • Graham: (about his mother) Her name was Lucy.
      Caroline: Lucy? That's a pretty name.
      Graham: Pa says it sometimes when he's been drinking, but that's the only time he ever talks about her.
      Caroline: I knew she had died.
      Graham: When I got born.
      Caroline: Those things happen sometimes, Graham.
      Graham: Pa must miss her something terrible, just like you'd miss Mr. Ingalls. When he gets drunk, it makes him mad.
      Caroline: At you?
      Graham: Yes. But only when he's drunk, and he never remembers.
      Caroline: (long pause) What happened to your mother.....you musn't blame yourself for that, Graham.
      Graham: I don't. Pa does.

    • Caroline: Now, what would your father say if he knew you weren't going to have your supper?
      Graham: He wouldn't notice. He's always drunk by suppertime.

    • Caroline: We came here to help the boy, and all I hear is talk about punishing the father.
      Mr. Kennedy: He's earned punishment!
      Caroline: Hurt the father, and you hurt the boy, because he loves his father. Destroy the father, and you destroy the boy!
      Reverend Alden: Doctor Baker?
      Doc Baker: John Stewart is a sick man.
      Mr. Kennedy: Yeah, right out of the bottle's sake!
      Caroline: If one of your animals was sick, you'd do anything and everything in your power to cure it. Can you do any less for a sick man? Cure him, save him, and you save two people.
      Mr. Kennedy: Oh, you're asking for the impossible!
      Doc Baker: No, Kennedy, it's not impossible, given the right kind of help, and I'm talking about somebody watching him around the clock.
      Harriet: Oh, for Heaven's sake, you can't make a silk purse out a sow's ear!
      Mr. Kennedy: It would be a waste of time to try.
      Harriet: Yes.
      Caroline: Is that your answer? A chance to help a fellow human being, and you call it a waste?

    • Caroline: How can anybody beat their child?
      Charles: I don't know. It's hard to believe.
      Caroline: It's even harder to believe that the boy still loves him.
      Charles: Well, even a dog will stay with a master that beats him.
      Caroline: That's not a very satisfying answer, Charles.
      Charles: I'm afraid there are no answers, just facts. He beats the boy, and he may do it again.

    • Charles: (about the man who beats his child) What can you do? The man's a drunk.
      Doc Baker: You can't talk to him about his drinking. I've tried.
      Charles: Reverend Alden has tried, too. He just won't listen.
      Miss Beadle: Are you two telling me there's nothing that can be done?
      Doc Baker: Well, if we weren't so doggone civilized, I'd suggest a public horse whipping!

    • Charles: Where are the rest of the bottles?
      John: What bottles?
      Charles: (getting angry) Let's get a few things straight. The only reason I'm here is because my wife thinks there's something decent in every man, even you. I want to be with my family. Now, as long as we're gonna be together, you're gonna do what I say. Now put the rest of the whiskey on the table!

    • Doc Baker: Is this where your Pa hit you?
      Graham: No, sir. I fell out of a tree.
      Doc Baker: Well, that must have been some tree.

  • NOTES (1)

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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