Little House on the Prairie

Season 1 Episode 12

The Award

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Dec 11, 1974 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
107 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Award
While studying for an optional history examination in the barn one night, Mary accidentally knocks over a reading lamp. After narrowly putting out the fire, a furious Caroline yells at her daughter and forbids her from taking the special test. Later, Mary takes a job at the mercantile to pay for some items damaged in the fire, then makes a decision that could further aggravate her relationship with her mother.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • Great Show

    I loved how Melisue Sue Anderson got to show her colors in this episode and did very well.

    My only beef, not to repeat other reviews I agree with, is why is it, that punishment with these kids is always so lax...whether they steal, lie, disobey? If they do punish them (and this was harsh compared to others) they feel guilty about it. I thought Caroline was fair and Mary almost burned down the barn and killed the horse and cow! Just because she didn't hurt herself or them, doesn't mean it couldn't have happened. She said she heard her tell her that hundreds of times and then Caroline thinks just saying "I'm sorry" is enough?

    I don't believe in physical punishment (although Laura does get hit in the books) but this family was lax.

    Off soapbox....I do love this show, it's just that as a Mom, I don't understand the guilt the mother feels all the time.

  • Charles is out of town and things are tough for Caroline ... and Mary!

    With Charles away, Caroline has a lot of extra work on her hands. Mary is doing extra work too as she wishes to study for a special examination at school with the prize for the winner being a beautiful new Webster's Dictionary.

    In order to cram in extra study, Mary sneaks out to the barn so that she doesn't wake her family. Unfortunately, while she is asleep, she accidently knocks over her lantern and sets fire to a part of the barn, burning several important things, including an expensive history book that Miss Beadle has loaned her to help with her preparation.

    Caroline is terrified and furious and, in her anger, forbids Mary to take the examination. Poor Mary is devastated about the whole thing and takes a part-time job at Oleson's Mercantile in order to earn some money to replace the book and the things from the barn. She also decides that she will take the test even though her mother has forbidden it.

    On test day, Caroline sees Mary doing the examination with the other children but she does not win the prize. Miss Beadle informs her that Mary wrote her a note saying that she wouldn't be taking the test and why.

    Kudos to Melissa Sue Anderson here. I always felt that, through no fault of either young actress, she was very much in the shadow of the equally talented Melissa Gilbert, at least in the early series of the show. In this episode, she was really able to show what she could do and she came through with flying colours.moreless
  • One of my favorite episodes!

    Charles has gone to Manketo to run some errands for Mr. Hansen. When Mary and Laura go to school, Ms. Beadle announces the scholarship award to the person who gets the highest marks on the scholarship exam. Mary wants the book more than anything, and is willing to work really hard for it. She decides to enroll for the exam and Ms. Beadle gives her a list of the subjects that would be covered. Mary has most of the books she needs except American History, so she asks Ms. Beadle, and Ms. Beadle lends her own copy of the book to Mary. Mary studies whenever she gets the time and wherever she goes. One night, while everyone is sleeping, she goes to the barn to study, not wanting to disturb anyone. She falls asleep and the lantern falls down, making the barn catch fire. Caroline manages to put of the fire, and in anger tells Mary to forget about the exam. Mary is devastated but the next day, obeys her mother. She finds out Ms. Beadle’s book is burnt so she gets a part time job at the Oleson’s shop to get a new book for her. Caroline feels bad, but after having a talk with the Reverend, she feels she should stick to the punishment, otherwise Mary won’t learn anything. Mary is still persistent to win the award and doesn’t tell Miss. Beadle about withdrawing. Instead she starts studying while she is working in the shop, and after all her chores and homework are over. Will she be able to win the award and what would Caroline do when she found out that Mary didn’t take her seriously?

    I absolutely loved this episode, because we finally get to see an episode that emphasizes more on Mary. The ending has a twist, which I would have never expected, but proves that Mary is a good child. Karen Grassle and Melissa Sue Anderson acted wonderfully as Caroline and Mary.

    I rate this 10/10.moreless
Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Charlotte Stewart

Charlotte Stewart

Miss Eva Beadle/Mrs. Simms (1974 - 1978)

Karen Grassle

Karen Grassle

Caroline Quiner Holbrook Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Lindsay Greenbush

Lindsay Greenbush

Carrie Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Sidney Greenbush

Sidney Greenbush

Carrie Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Melissa Sue Anderson, who plays Mary, has indicated in previous interviews that she really loved doing this episode. It was the first episode that focused in on Mary, and Melissa Sue feels that it was her chance to prove that she could take on more complex material in the series--which she certainly did in later seasons, when her character went blind.

    • At the beginning of this episode, while Laura is narrating, she says something like "Pa didn't go away very often, but when he did, it took a whole lot of people to get him started." It's a bit of a stretch for Laura to say that Pa didn't go away much; with his hunting trips and out-of-town visits while on business at various times, Charles Ingalls had to go away quite a few times. That was evident from the pilot episode, as well as Laura Ingalls Wilder's books.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Laura: I'm looking for something.
      Mary: What?
      Laura: I don't know.
      Mary: Well, how can you be looking for something when you don't know what the something is?
      Laura: I'll know it when I see it.
      Mary: Laura, sometimes you don't make sense! Hurry up, we'll be late for school!
      Laura: Okay, I'm coming. You know, sometimes you don't make sense, either.
      Mary: When don't I?
      Laura: Every morning, you're always in a hurry to get to school.
      Mary: Well, I like school.
      Laura: That's what I mean! You don't make sense.

    • Laura: How do you spell bow like on a tree?
      Caroline: You mean bough?
      Laura: Bough.
      Caroline: B.
      Laura: B. (writes it down, pauses) O-U-H?
      Caroline: O-U-G-H.
      Laura: O-U-G-H.
      Caroline: If Mary wins that dictionary, then pretty soon you won't even have to ask. You can look the words up.
      Laura: (long pause) How can I look up a word I can't spell?

    • Laura: Since I don't have any homework, can I go fishing after I do my chores?
      Caroline: Well, just because you don't have any homework doesn't mean you can't spend a little extra time learning.
      Laura: (sighs) Yes, Ma. When I'm dead, the history books will say that I hardly ever got to go fishing!

    • Mary: You know what Pa always says: "Never cross your bridges until you get to them." Well, that's what I'm doing. I'm going to wait for my bridges!

    • Reverend Alden: (about Mary's change in behavior) She's taken responsibility for her mistake, and she's trying to make amends. A few more days, and she's gonna be the Mary you always knew.
      Caroline: What about the history exam?
      Reverend Alden: If you forget this punishment, your girls can expect you to forget about the next one, and the one after that.
      Caroline: That's true.
      Reverend Alden: Family discipline is...well, it's based on promises kept, for both punishment and reward. Without them, children have no rules to live by.
      Caroline: And neither do we.

    • Laura: Mary, can you pull out that lamp? I can't sleep with it on.
      Mary: Well, I can't read without it.
      Laura: You're not supposed to be reading, you're supposed to be sleeping. Mary: I can't sleep.
      Laura: Ma needs her rest with all the extra work she has to do with Pa gone.
      Mary: I know, but I'm getting to a really good part about George Washington!
      Laura: Well, I can tell you what happened. He grew up to be the father of our country. Now blow out that light before it wakes up Ma!

    • Caroline: (after Mary starts a fire by accident) Do you realize you could have been--(pauses, turns, then starts screaming) How many times have I told you not to light matches or lanterns in the barn?
      Mary: (crying) A hundred, I guess....
      Caroline: But you forgot? Well, young lady, you're going to remember from this night on! And you can forget that examination. Now, tomorrow morning, I want you to go in and tell Miss Beadle that you're not taking it!
      Laura: But Ma, she can't.
      Caroline: Why not?
      Laura: Because tomorrow's Saturday.

    • Nellie: Working hard?
      Mary: Doing just fine.
      Nellie: You should look nicer when you come to work in the store. Maybe your Ma would let you wear your Sunday dress.
      Mary: My Sunday dress is for church.
      Nellie: Well, you don't get paid for going to Church.
      Mary: And I don't worship in Oleson's mercantile.

  • NOTES (3)