"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 36
This meeting of the Anti-Grasshopper Club is now in session. Are we all here? . . . Good.
We knew this was coming, didn't we? Laura Ingalls Wilder couldn't have foreshadowed it more darkly if she'd painted them on. This may be the most awful part of the entire readalong--and one of the Top 5 Most Awful "Two or Three" Book Club Moments, up there with scenes straight out of Stephen King. Yet in the midst of that overwhelming misfortune comes this beam of light:
"I don't want to look any more," Mary said, and she went away from the window. Laura did not want to look any more, either, but she could not stop looking.
The hens were funny. The two hens and their gawky pullets were eating grasshoppers with all their might. They were used to stretching their necks out low and running fast after grasshoppers and not catching them. Every time they stretched out now they got a grasshopper right then. They were surprised. They kept stretching out their necks and trying to run in all directions at once.
"Well, we won't have to buy feed for the hens," said Ma. "There's no great loss without some gain."
That's a great passage, coming in the midst of some devastating descriptions of the damage caused by the grasshoppers--which read like that proverbial train wreck you can't drag your eyes away from. If you were looking at your family's farm, the hard labour of many months, and the beautiful prairie beyond being completely destroyed while you were powerless to do anything, no one would blame you for taking in only the huge loss. But the Ingalls can see the hens for the grasshoppers, and that makes all the difference. Ma reminds her family--and the readers--that as long as you can look at the hens and laugh, you will be saved from despair.
Besides, it's nice to think that in the midst of that grasshopper feeding frenzy, some of the invaders are getting eaten, too! But I'm just petty like that.