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Written by Kate H
Gender roles; violence against women
Throughout A Thousand Acres, Rose and Ginny are confronted with discrimination. They are forced to remain inside to cook and clean rather than help the men outside with farming. They are painted into a corner as weak and incapable, despite the fact that they are some of the strongest characters in the book. Eventually, both characters cast off their respective stereotypical female roles. Rose becomes a land lord, and Ginny runs away from her husband and becomes an independent waitress who attends nightschool in order to get a college degree.
In addition to the discrimination of females, a major element of the text focuses on violence against women. Rose is constantly beaten by her husband, Pete. He bruises her often, and once he even breaks her arm. When he does not physically assault her, he verbally assaults her, insulting her and belittling her in front of her sister, father, and daughters. In addition to Pete's violence, the reader becomes aware of sexual and physical abuse by Larry. When Rose and Ginny were younger, Larry would rape and assault them. The multi-generational abuse of women contributes to the societal acceptance of violence against women and gender roles in Zebulon county.
The majority of the book focuses on the conflict between Larry Cook and Rose and Ginny Cook. Larry decides to retire and to divide his farm between his two eldest daughters - Rose and Ginny. Later, he decides they are mismanaging the farm and decides to sue the two for misuse of property. The two daughters, however, view Larry as taking advantage of his situation. He is driving while intoxicated, spending recklessly, and not contributing to any of the day-to-day workings of the farm. The main plot in the story is about the conflict between the two generations.
Greed and the price paid for material success
The main characters of the book are mostly driven by the wealth of their land. The emphasis put on the amount of land owned and the amount of wealth any given family has adds to the importance of wealth. Throughout the entire book, the Cooks try to build their farm land to acquire more wealth and more land. Ty's hog operation was planned to expand their farm and bring in a lot more revenue. Instead, it bankrupted the family and caused the family to sell all of their land. The price paid for material success also shows in the breaking of family ties when greed becomes a factor. When Rose and Ginny decide to become the owners of the farm, they ultimately break ties with their father because they want to decide how to run the land and how to make money.
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