A Thousand Acres Background

A Thousand Acres Background

A Thousand Acres is a novel that was published in 1991 that was written by Jane Smiley. The novel is highly acclaimed, having won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction as well as the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. In addition, the book was made into a film in 1997 with the same name, A Thousand Acres.

The book is essentially a modern retelling of King Lear, one of Shakespeare’s plays. The narrator is named Ginny, who is the oldest daughter of Larry Cook. One interesting similarity between the two works is the similarities between the main characters’ names: Lear is renamed as Larry, Goneril as Ginny, Regan as Rose, and Cordelia as Caroline.

Larry is the father, and he owns a one thousand acre farm in Iowa. He has three daughters, Ginny, Rose, and Caroline. Because Larry is getting old, he decides to give the entire farm to his three daughters together. It is during this exchange that Caroline is portrayed as a spoiled girl, because she doesn’t act thankful and grateful; Larry removes her from the agreement after this incident. However, this creates a snowball effect, forcing each person to bring the truth and their real emotions out to be shared with each other, which ends up revealing that Larry sexually abused the two oldest daughters, Ginny and Rose. The themes that this book explores through the narrative include gender roles, the drastic changes between each generation, and the power of appearances over reality.

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