Little Town on the Prairie Characters

Little Town on the Prairie Character List

Laura Ingalls

Laura is the central character in the book and is actually the author as a teen. She is bold, sassy and hard-working with terrific family loyalty. She constantly puts the good of her family ahead of her own wishes, for example, taking the job as a seamstress's assistant because she knows the money she earns will contribute towards Mary's college fees. Laura is a good leader with a level head, corralling her younger sisters into an effective house cleaning team, and inspiring support from her classmates that she never actually asked for.

Laura does not like to be confined physically or emotionally; she hates the confined feeling in town after the wide open space of the prairie, and hates the confines of her corset that she is supposed to wear all day and night but does not. Similarly even though she is smart and a diligent student the confines of studying hard with no diversion frustrates her. She definitely likes to be mentally challenged and does not like to be bored.

Laira has a strict sense of fairness which is why she questions Miss Wilder's actions, and why she leaps to Carrie's defense; however her fairness also extends to those who do her wrong as she does not want the boys in the class to make Miss Wildwr's life too difficult. Laura has great self-confidence which is why Nellie hates her so much, that confidence meaning that Laura will not allow herself to be bullied by Nellie, or intimidated by her.


Ma -Caroline Ingalls - is the strength of the family, working at tasks she actually hates, such as sewing, to provide the things that they need. Ma seems to know that there will be more opportunities for her daughters that there were for her yet is still aware of the importance of raising them to be refined and elegant young women. Ma is particularly good at baking and enjoys using everything on the farm to produce meals, even baking a blackbird pie after Pa has shot the marauding blackbirds that were in the cornfields.


Charles Ingalls is a loving and fun father who spends lots of time with the family. He has a great work ethic and works both on the farm and as a carpenter in town to bring in extra money. He is a natural leader who always seems to know the right thing to say or do, for example, beginning to sing the national anthem at the July Fourth celebration. He is a member of the school board and rates education highly. Pa encourages his children to pursue goals and not to underestimate themselves, for example showing Laura his faith in her ability to be a good school teacher.

Mary Ingalls

Mary is the eldest Ingalls daughter and went blind as a result of illness. Peculiarly, although her character is not central to the book, she is pivotal in the life of the family as almost every decision that is made about Laura's life relates to how it will benefit Mary, such as Laura taking a job in town, or becoming a teacher, both made not with Laura in mind but with bringing in money to pay for Mary to go to college. Mary lives to study and at college makes great progress. Mary is a kindly, generous young woman who is good by nature, without having to think about it. Her faith is very important to her and she has no doubts about it whatsoever.

Carrie Ingalls

Carrie is Laura's younger sister and by contrast to the sturdy and robust Laura is sickly and physically limited. Even the walk to school is a lot for her. She does pull her weight at home by helping Ma with things like sewing and preparing food. Carrie is a sweet girl and a good student, despite being picked on by Miss Wilder.

Grace Ingalls

Grace is the baby of the family and does not really remember life before the Dakota prairie. She loves her sisters and playing on the farm. Grace likes to help but usually makes more mess when she helps clean although her sisters usually let her help them as she is so earnest in wanting to do so.

Nellie Oleson

Nellie was a classmate of Laura back in Plum Creek, Minnesota. She would never say anything nice where it was possible to say anything nasty. She is extremely spiteful and manipulative and does not care if the other children like her as long as the people who will get her what she wants do. Nellie has her eye on Almanzo Wilder and his horses which is why she is so keen to suck up to Miss Wilder, his sister. Naturally when it is Laura, not Nellie, who is given a ride to school behind the horses, Nellie is furious.

Nellie is snobbish but hails from the same place as Laura so has no reason to look down on her; in fact Nellie seems to look down on everyone who isn't Nellie.

Eliza Wilder

Miss Wilder is a young, newly-qualified teacher who seems overwhelmed by the job of teaching. Unwisely she listens to Nellie's tittle-tattle and lets it influence her treatment of her students. Although she seems past the age when one should be "easily led", she does seem east to influence and is not the best judge of character.

Almanzo Wilder

Almanzo is Eliza Wilder's brother. He is well-liked and has noticed Laura enough that he wants to spend time with her, offering her a ride in his beautiful carriage and walking her home from church. He is an ambitious and competitive man who drives his carriage skillfully and wins the July Fourth races. Although Laura actually notices his horses before she pays any mind to him she comes to enjoy his company and likes walking home with him. As the name of the author suggests Almanzo eventually becomes Laura's husband.

Ida Wright

Ida is new in a hook but Laura immediately likes her. She is humble and hard working, and as the adoptive daughter of Reverand and Mrs Wrigjt, she is conscious of the need to help after church and not to ask for too many things that may seem like fripperies, such as name cards, or money for a social. It is helping Ida at Thanksgiving Dinner that keeps Laura from tucking into the first courses of food.

Minnie Johnson

One of Laura's close friends, Minnie and her family live in town and are likely financially equal with the Ingalls, which makes it comfortable for Laura to spend time with her. They both enjoy the outdoors and would rather be enjoying the sunshine than cooped up inside.

Mary Power

Mary's family are well-off so when there is anything new that comes in Mary is among the first to have it, such as name cards or hoop skirts. Mary is a fun, kindly girl who is sharp and perceptive, particularly when it comes to seeing through Nellie's behavior to deduce what her intentions are.

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