Where Laura is keen to go outside and play, even as a small child, Mary is far more content to stay indoors and work on her samplers, or read a book, or do housework. She finds such things immersive and pleasant, whereas Laura finds them stifling and dull. Fortunately, Mary’s love of routine and ability to memorize her surroundings comes in handy once she goes blind, because she is easily able to remember her way around the house, barn, and homestead. She is often practical and reminds her sister to behave and mind her manners, but she can be convinced to play where she shouldn’t play, such as on the haystack the girls “knock down” one afternoon. Mary is more cautious than Laura, and also less interested in trying new things. She doesn’t exhibit much interest in Ne-ish things, but she is excited to go away to school where she can learn and cultivate new skills, and shows quite a talent for learning to read in Braille. She is focused on being “proper” and just like a young lady “ought” to be. Mary often scolds her sister for her uncharitable words and thoughts. She threatens to tell on her for leading Nellie into the deep water where the leeches lie. She has a sweet disposition that is able to comfort and console her sisters, and she’s quick to be agreeable and generous with her things. Laura often resents her as a child for being “too” good, because she feels like her parents expect her to follow in Mary’s seemingly selfish shoes. Mary is also quick and eager to learn, able to figure out things as she goes, and excited by the idea of learning new things.

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Mary always tries to do the good and selfless thing. Even as a small child, she’s worried about misbehaving and will scold her sister for getting her dress dirty, wandering too far from the homestead, or doing something “wrong.” Mary will agree to sacrifice presents for the “greater good.” She sells it as selfishness, but really it’s a little bit “goody-goody.” She tries to always be proper and encourages Laura to do the same (wear her bonnet, not let her skirts fly up, and sit still, for heaven’s sake!). Mary is compassionate and generous, always willing to “do unto others.” But as an adult, Mary admits freely to Laura that her greatest sin has always been her pride.