In the book A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, there are two very important social scenes which define the book and the characters within it. These scenes demonstrate greed and appearance versus reality.
The first of these scenes appears at the beginning of the book. Aging farmer and father, Larry, decides to split his land between his three daughters, Ginny, Rose, and Caroline. He announces this decision as a welcome home party for a neighbor’s son. This scene characterizes all of the main characters and is one of the main events of the novel. It is the first indication of Larry’s descent into madness, because the decision to give away his hard earned land was reached so quickly yet hardly had any thought behind it. Many of the characters think he had too much to drink. While Rose, Ginny, and their husbands jumped at the idea, Caroline shied away from it. This reflects Rose and Ginny’s greed and Caroline’s lawyer personality. Everyone but Caroline wants more land and more control. Especially Ginny’s husband, who wants to expand a hog operation. When they agree to splitting the land within seconds, their motives for land are clear. Their greed for power, however small, reaches out and grabs the opportunity. When Caroline doesn’t say yes immediately, Larry becomes very angry and cuts her out. This is another indication of his madness, because Caroline had been the favorite daughter. It represents Larry’s tragic hubris, and how easily injured it can be. This flaw will later be the whole family’s downfall. These interactions demonstrate the value of land in Zebulon County. Each of the characters has a special interest in the land and inheritance. Land means power for the families and when the daughters gain land, they gain power. Their greed for this power defines the book, but the price they pay for it is more than monetary.
The next defining social scene in the book is the church potluck. The family is nearing its destruction by the date of the potluck. Larry...
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