Thousand Acres

A Thousand Acres, by Jane Smiley, is a story of incest, ignorance, and the

imperialistic voice of the almighty man. Ignorance of being lead by a man, particular

views of Rose and Ginny, and domesticated to believe that "When we are good girls and

accept our circumstances, we\'re glad about it. . .When we are bad girls, it drives us

crazy" (99). The imperialistic voice usually comes from the omnipotent Larry Cook, Rose,

Ginny, and Caroline’s father. And the incestuous relations only entangle this

dysfunctional family. The eldest daughter, Ginny, is the most loyal and idolizes her

father. The second eldest daughter, Rose, is linked to her father through Ginny, who keeps

her from losing faith in him. Rose questions whether the loyalty that Ginny shows her

father makes her obedient or if her reluctance to judge him proves her ignorance. Rose has

two daughters, Pammy and Linda, who are also first hand witnesses to the episodes of the

Cook family trauma, but remain dormant to what goes on around them. Caroline, the youngest

daughter has left the one thousand acres of land they grew up on to become a lawyer.

Caroline is married to Frank Ras, whom also is a lawyer and they do not have any children.

The book is narrated from Ginny’s viewpoint. Ginny is married to Ty and they don’t have

any children, but Ginny secretively keeps trying. Ginny also has an extramarital affair

with Jess Clark, son of Harold Clark the neighbor and best friend of Larry Cook. Jess has

just returned to Zebulon County from the food corp. Given the basic character summary, one

of the themes or recurrent ideas that was present throughout the whole book was

domination. This domination concept was usually brought to life through the character,

Larry Cook, over issues like farming, food, appearance or anything else that didn’t sit

well with his expectations in life. Being that domination is not something tangible,

conflicts such as the above mentioned were used to develop the theme idea into a concrete

representation and also illustrate the effects that the domination theme had on the women

of Zebulon County.

The whole farming conflict begins when Larry Cook impulsively decides to distribute

his one thousand acres of farmland to his three daughters and Caroline, the youngest

daughter, rejects the farmland offer. Larry is initially angry at Caroline, but

continues to let Ty, Ginny’s husband, and Pete, Rose’s husband, keep up the

traditional farming methods on the farm that Larry has put into place. Ty has much respect

for Larry as Larry does him. This is because Ty’s background “showed proper history-Ty’s

dad,” whom “had inherited the extra farm” that Ty had farmed for six years (12). His good

manners were also a favorable aspect with Larry. Ty also shares some of the same views as

Larry. Pete on the other hand, was not as well liked by Larry as Ty was. The feeling

seemed to be mutual, but because of the marital connections they remained amicable to one

another. And often used Ty as a mediator for disagreements. With the Cook farm transfer

negotiations still pending, preparations were made to expand the farm’s operations and

make a profit. Initially, the transfer has the Cook family on edge. The whole transfer

idea was Larry’s. His character simply gleams rays of control to all those around. Even

when he announces his plan, at a party of all places, Larry positions himself at the

center of the circle of family members. As he boldly pronounces, ”We’re going to form a girls are going to have shares...we’re going to build this new

Slurrystore, and maybe a Harveststore, too, and enlarge the hog operation” (18). At this

point, the decision seems to be made. Nowhere within his declaration does he say “Would

you girls like to. . .” or “What do you think about this . . .”. The overall masculine

attitude in this scene is acceptance to the idea. Ty seemed to be ecstatic, but contains

himself. And what opposition do the females convey inspite of their real feelings? “It’s a

good idea,” (19) says Ginny. “It’s a great idea,” (19) says Rose. “I don’t know,” (19)

says Caroline, seeing the “plan as a trapdoor