Charles is a man of the world, who does everything with his hands, from haul his family into the great unknown out of their comfortable life in the Big Woods, to build a log cab in the middle of the prairie, to dig a well, to take on the job as a temporary foreman around Silver Lake. He can be impulsive and careless, such as when he almost let his dog drown in a rushing river, and in his numerous instances of insisting they move about the countryside whenever it got too “crowded” (hint: whenever he got bored). Laura omitted way more times in her novels that he uprooted his family and took them to another state, or even back to a previous one, all in pursuit of endless “newness.” Charles is highly observant, noticing that the muskrats are building the thickest walls to their houses he has ever seen, and reasoning that must mean a “bad winter” is on its way. But he has no real desire to settle down or stay put anywhere until Caroline insists on his daughters getting a proper education. He’s a handy man to have around, since he figures out things as he goes. He whittles and works with wood, to create solutions to whatever problems arise, from making a door and figuring out how to make pins for it out of wood (because he has no nails) to getting food when they’re all starving to death during the long winter. “Pa” can do anything from build log cabins to figure out how to twist hay sticks to burn in the winter. He has a warm and generous nature, tolerant of other people in a time when many were not (when a neighbor insults the “Indians,” Pa reasons that “not ALL of them are like that,” any more than “ALL” white people are like that). He can be charming, have a booming laugh, and easily know how to appease and please and delight his children, though he prefers to make emotional decisions (trading a calf they love for more practical things).

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Pa is, at his heart, an unrealistic dreamer at times. He’s always hankering for something “better” – someplace else. He moves his family around whenever he gets restless and dissatisfied with the stable life they have built for themselves – away from the Big Woods, across the prairie, living beside a river, then a lake, on a shanty. He often has wanderlust and even when stuck in one spot, tells his wife that he has a hankering for more. Charles tries to make special occasions and fun for his Children; bringing them candy from town and other treats. He has a big sense of humor and not much heart for punishing his “girls.” He reasons that they should always be happy, and brings out his violin to keep them so. But he can be impractical at times; rather than encouraging his daughter to save her money for her later life, Charles convinces her to spend it all on a piano for Mary, only to have his daughter not come home in the summer after all. He has a good-natured tendency to appeal to people, without allowing them to take advantage of him, and expresses occasional fears about what “might” happen as a consequence of things beyond his control. (Pa frets about being “strung up” if the railroad does not pay its employees or get the train through on time. He worries about keeping his family safe in the winter. Etc.)