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Ginny Cook Smith
Ginny is the main character and narrator of A Thousand Acres. She is the daughter of Larry Cook, and is married to Tyler Smith. She, along with her sister, Rose Cook Lewis, inherits her father's farmland, the setting in which the story takes place. Ginny is a complex character that works through greed, jealousy, anger, and trauma throughout the novel. Despite the array of emotions that Ginny feels, she is very secretive about how she is feeling. She was sexually abused by Larry in the past, a memory which she repressed. She is based off of Goneril from Shakespeare's King Lear.
Rose Cook Lewis
Rose is Ginny's sister that also inherits their father's land. She is married to Pete Lewis. Similarly to Ginny, Rose is greedy and ambitious, but unlike Ginny, Rose is open about her emotions. Rose was also sexually abused by Larry, and as such, she despises him and wants to seek revenge. She is diagnosed with breast cancer and ultimately dies from it. Rose is based off of Shakespeare's character Regan, from King Lear.
Caroline is the youngest of Larry's three daughters, and his favorite. When Caroline is uncertain about inheriting Larry's land, he cuts her out of his will. She is implied to be the only daughter that Larry did not sexually abuse, and as such, she dislikes her sisters for exploiting his generosity in giving them his land. Caroline's character correlates with Cordelia from King Lear.
Larry Cook is the father of Ginny, Rose, and Caroline. He is misogynistic, crude, and cruel, and the trauma he caused his two oldest daughters follow them into adulthood, shaping who they are. He is ambitious and selfish, as exemplified by his actions as a young man, wherein he would exploit his neighbors by buying their land for cheap. He is based on King Lear in Shakespeare's King Lear. While King Lear can be sympathized with, Larry is irredeemable in his actions and characterization.
Harold is the Larry's neighbor and friendly rival. When Larry's daughters turn against him, Harold immediately takes his side. This reveals his own misogynistic beliefs. Harold's King Lear counterpart is Gloucester.
Jess is the son of Harold Clark, and has an affair with both Ginny and Rose. Ginny attempts to kill Rose as a result of Jess' affair with her. Ultimately, Jess abandons both sisters. He is described as charming and charismatic, but ultimately he is not a good person: he is manipulative and greedy. Jess is based off of Edmund in Shakespeare's King Lear.
Tyler "Ty" Smith
Tyler is Ginny's husband. Throughout the novel, he never makes a definitive stance against or with Ginny: he wants to help her with the farm, but he also thinks that she had Rose are being too harsh on Larry. While he is portrayed as a good husband, Ginny still cheats on him with Jess, and hides several of her miscarrages from him. He is based on Albany from King Lear.
Pete is Rose's husband and an outsider of the farm community where Rose was born and raised. Pete is an alcoholic and beats Rose occasionally. During one beating in particular, Pete breaks Rose's arm, and after that the abuse seems to end. Pete dies after learning that Rose is having an affair with Jess, and it is uncertain whether or not his death was a suicide. He is based on Cornwall in Shakespeare's King Lear.
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