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A thousand Acres
Vivian Chengon 13 May 2014
Transcript of A thousand Acres
Characters and setting are introduced
"Caroline said, 'I don't know'" (Pg. 19)
At Harold's pig roast, he announces that he will divide his land - a symbol of success, to his three daughters. The youngest - Caroline is doubtful of his decision and says the above quote. This is when it is apparent to the audience that family relations are strained. Larry becomes angered and then disputes between the family are invoked. The more dysfunctional we see their family, the more is revealed of the Cook family's dark secrets.
"All I know is, Daddy's lost everything, he's acting crazy, and you don't care enough to do anything about it!" (Pg. 117)
Caroline calls Ginny to tell her that she believes of Larry's deteriorating mental state and she accuses her sisters of taking advantage of their father despite the fact that he was the one who gave them the land. This is one of the person vs. person conflicts.
Other Important Rising Action Events:
Caroline gets married without informing her family (Pg 138), Ginny sleeps with Jess (Pg. 163), Larry steals Pete's truck and when he returns insults Ginny, (Pg 183) Rose reveals Larry's sexual abuse (Pg 189) Ty discovers the remnants of Ginny's miscarriages and the two have a fight (Pg. 259). Ginny admits her one-sided love for Jess Clark (Pg. 263) Larry sues his daughters for taking his land (Pg 283)
Type: Protagonist, Dynamic
Evidence: "I was afraid to talk about it because I hated friction with Ty." (Pg. 154)
Context: Ginny's thoughts when describing her relationship with her husband
Analysis: Ginny avoids situations where potential conflict may arise. She appeases others and can first be described as "kind, selfless, and genuine" however, this passivity contributes to her emotional damage.
Annotation: Ginny's submissive behaviour is also a result of the theme of "Female Oppression"
Ginny's repressed emotions eventually drive her to outburst.
Evidence: "All my tissues hurt when I saw them [Pammy and Linda]." (Pg. 8)
Context: When Ginny introduces the characters, she reveals her longing for kids after several miscarriages.
Analysis: Ginny has had miscarriages for years, However, her selflessness and goodness makes her truly want to be a mother. Ginny's miscarriages expose her deep psychological damage and her inevitable jealousy towards her sister.
Annotation: Ginny's motherly instincts lead her to have more miscarriages and keep them secret from Ty. This results in the passage of her character from submissive to more audacious as she angrily confronts Ty about her wishful thoughts.
Other Character Traits: Kind, selfless
By Jane Smiley
A Thousand Acres
Trait: Loyal to Family
Evidence: "You're such a good daughter, so slow to judge, it's like stupidity" (Pg 151)
Context: Rose sarcastically praises Ginny for her loyalty to Larry.
Analysis: Ginny's humbleness towards Larry allows him to abuse her. Despite Larry's malice, Ginny still succumbs to his desires demonstrating her unwavering loyalty to her father. Ginny also does not take away Larry's keys when she believes he is driving drunk. Ginny also cooks and cleans for him.
Annotation: This quote also contributes to the theme of "Female Oppression" because Ginny blindly accepts her father's spiteful behaviour.
Evidence: "I guess you always want everything to yourself, huh" (Pg. 304)
Context: Ginny says this to Rose after Rose reveals her affair with Jess Clark and her greed for Larry's land.
Analysis: Rose's contrasting personality to Ginny's is the basis for her hatred toward Larry and Pete. This hatred contributes to the dysfunctional Cook family dynamic and the revelation of her flaw leaves Ginny betrayed. The author uses a juxtaposition with characters to create family tension. This progresses the theme of "The Selfishness of Human Nature."
Other Character Traits: Outgoing, Jealous, Depressed due to her breast cancer.
Evidence: "But he did rape us and he did beat us. He beat us more than he raped us. He beat us routinely. And the thing is, he's respected." (Pg 302)
Analysis: This shows the true evil of Larry's character and shows the male supremacy of their rural community.
Other Traits: Alcoholic, prideful, anger issues.
Womanizer, emotionally traumatized by the death of his fiancee, kind, polite, vegetarian, good looking
Analysis: Contributes to the Cook family tension because he sleeps with both sisters. This develops the theme of jealousy as both sisters fall in love with Jess. Jess also represents the idea of "Appearance vs. Reality" because the readers become drawn to him due to his good looks, good manners, and charisma, however, although Jess is a male character who does not abuse the women in the story, he is a womanizer who sleeps with 2 Cook sisters.
Ty and Pete
Traits: Submissive, unsympathetic to Ginny's emotions, farmer
Traits: Aggressive, abusive, unsympathetic to Rose's feelings, musical
Analysis: The treatment of these men contribute to the theme of "Female Oppression" because Ty does not understand Ginny's emotions and is apathetic to them, leading her to repress her feelings. Pete is physically abusive as well as emotionally abusive.
Climax and Denouement
Ginny's conversation with Rose is the climax of the novel. "Before that night, I would have said that the state of mind I entered into afterward was beyond me. Since then, I might have declared that I was "not myself" or "out of my mind" or "beside myself" (Pg. 305)
Analysis: A climax is defined as a passage that the character goes through where she cannot go back to who she was before.
In the conversation Rose reveals her hatred for her husband even after his death, she states the reason for being with him was to erase the thought of Larry. Rose reveals her love for Jess Clark despite his hesitance to settle down. She reveals her and Pete's hatred for Larry. She reveals her selfish and jealous desires that shaped her life decisions regarding Jess Clark, Larry when they were younger, and the decision to take Larry's land. This relates to "Appearance vs. Reality"
Denouement: The trial of the book is the start of the falling action, Caroline and Larry lose and the lawsuit is claimed as frivolous (Pg 325)
Other important events: Larry dies of a heart attack (Pg. 334), Ginny and Ty get a divorce (Pg 341), Rose dies of cancer (Pg. 356), Ginny and Caroline sell the farm. (Pg. 357)
Person vs. Person (Caroline vs. Ginny and Rose)
"She finished on a ringing note. I said, "Caroline-" but she cut me off by hanging up.
Analysis: Caroline, always regarded as Larry's favourite begins to have tension with the other two sisters regarding the land dispute. She believes that Larry is being mistreated and this foreshadows the lawsuit later on. This alienates the three sisters from one another.
Person vs. Person (Rose vs. Ginny)
"She had answered my foolish love with jealousy and grasping selfishness" (Pg. 308)
Analysis: The truth of Rose and Ginny's relationship comes out, and the truth is that Rose is not appreciative of Ginny and their relationship has always been more one-sided. This startling revelation stains their relationship and this causes Ginny to rethink her previous notions of Rose.
Person vs. Person (Larry vs. Ginny and Rose)
Larry is ungrateful for his daughters treatment, and he lashes out at them. Larry's rage creates issues in the family and causes him to sue his daughters later on. Larry's daughters also hate him due to his abusive nature.
"A wave of exasperation washed over me. I said, 'Fine. Do what you want. You will anyway.' 'Spoken like the bitch you are!" (Pg 181) This outburst isolates the father and the two sisters and creates collisions between the characters. The sisters desperately want Larry out of their lives, however, because he is their father they are inclined to stay in their harmful relationship.
Person vs. Self (Ginny vs. Self)
"What I think is that you can't stand up to Rose. She bulldozes you every time." (Pg. 258)
Analysis: Ginny struggles with expressing her thoughts due to her submissive trait. Her emotions damage her internally and she is unable to stand up for herself. Ginny always follows those who she is loyal to, however, due to the selfish nature of the other characters, Ginny is left wounded. As a result, throughout the book, her tone becomes increasingly more wary and restless shadowing the explosive emotions inside.
Person vs. Society (Ginny vs. Zebulon County)
Throughout the novel, there are many examples of Female Oppression. For one, Ginny's mother's closeted identity is a motif of the silencing of women. In another case, when Caroline is discovered to have been married, the husbands of Ginny and Rose are indifferent towards their feelings, showing male insensitivity. Another example is how Ginny did not remember Larry's sexual abuse until Rose told her, showing the long-held belief in Zebulon County that men are superior.
"The person who beats and rapes his own daughters can go out into the community and get respect and power, and take it for granted that he deserves it" (Pg. 302)
"Our mother promoted our father's authority" (Pg. 224)
Analysis: When describing their family dynamics, readers can see Larry's dominance over the family and how the mother and daughters are second class to their male counterpart.
"You could just endure it. You could just cross each bridge as you come to it" (Pg. 143) This is Ty when Ginny is upset, he does not care about her
Selfishness of Human Nature
"Also Caroline is a party to the suit as well" (Pg. 239)
Analysis: Caroline agrees to being Larry's lawyer. Growing up, Caroline was always protected by her sisters from the abuse of Larry. Her sisters did a lot for Caroline so that she could follow her dreams and pursue education, however, Caroline's selfish ambition makes her oblivious to her sisters' goodness and skews her perception of the family dynamics. This results in Caroline using her job to betray her sisters and help Larry despite her sisters being the reason she has the job.
Ginny also supports the selfishness of human nature. Although in the beginning of the book she is a persistently selfless character, the satisfaction of others brings severe unhappiness to herself. It is not until she finally ceases to her passion for Jess, and not until she leaves her husband that she is truly happy.
Jess is also selfish because he sleeps with both of the Cook sisters despite both of them being married. He wants the love of other women, however, he does not want to love them back.
Despises Caroline and Ginny because she is the least favourite of Larry's . "But I was flattered, too. I thought he'd picked me to be his favourite, me and not you, not her." (Pg 190)
Rose reveals that she kept sleeping with her father because she wanted to be his favourite.
Rose also says how she deserves the land that Larry was supposed to give them. "I want what was Daddy's. I want it. I feel like I've paid for it, don't you?" (Pg 303)
This suggests how Rose agreed to the idea in the first place because she believes the land is hers.
Appearance vs. Reality
Appearance: ideal, functioning, loving, harmony
Reality: damaged, oppressed, hateful
Ginny with Ty: Through the introduction, Ginny says "I got married to Ty when I was 19, and the fact was that even after 17 years of marriage, I was still pleased to see him every time he appeared." (Pg 12) This proposes the idea that they have a great marriage
However, "It was clear to me there was a deeper level for us to fight on, a level where nothing could be held back, and the true import of our conflicting loyalties would express itself." (Pg 260)
Through the rising action, Ginny's seemingly eternal hopefulness falters, and she is finally able to grasp her irreparable relationship.
Ginny with Rose: "I didn't argue. I never have with Rose" (Pg. 61) This paints a picture of a fantastic sisterly relationship, however, this is a great contrast from later on in the book when Rose reveals her secrets. Ginny is changed as a character because her relationship with her sister is one she believes to be constant and of true affection. "No day of my remembered life was without Rose." (Pg. 8)
Ginny with Larry: At first, Larry seems like a typical father figure, one that is perhaps strict. However, the plot unravels the fact that he is an abusive, prideful, raging alcoholic.
Ginny with Jess: At first, Jess appears to be a nice, caring man which can be shown through his well-mannered behaviour and his vegetarian principles. "I looked at Jess Clark and burst into tears. He took me to into the kitchen, turned on the light, and made us coffee, held my hand, and searched my face while he talked to me." (Pg 194) Jess is a better man then Ty because of his (seemingly) genuine concern for Ginny. Ginny believes that she has finally met a good man, however, in the climax of the story, Rose reveals that she knew that Jess Clark slept with her and she slept with him too. Jess Clark proves to be a womanizer and one who causes women to fall in love with him with no intention of returning their love.
Ginny and her life: "Our farm and our lives seemed secure ad good" (Pg. 5)
Ginny is blindly loyal to Rose and Larry.
"I threw myself into feeding her, cleaning her house, doing her laundry, driving her to Zebulon Center for her treatments, bathing her, helping her find a prosthesis..." (Pg. 9) This demonstrates how Ginny is loyal and devoted to Rose. However, Rose says "Sometimes I hate you [Ginny] too" (Pg 151) This shows that Rose, for whatever reason, has times when Ginny gets on her nerves, but is usually unable to lash out at Ginny due to her selflessness
"Caroline spoke as a woman rather than a daughter, something we were careful not to do" (Pg. 21)
This suggests that "being a daughter" means giving in to their father's demands, showing loyalty.
"We had sex in my bed" (Pg 190)
Rose reveals Larry's sexual abuse. This demonstrates Larry's selfishness because he uses his own daughters to satisfy his sexual desires.
Larry's selfishness can also be perceived when he exempts Caroline from the land ownership. Larry cannot tolerate that Caroline's idea of success is vastly different from his own.