A Thousand Acres

A Thousand Acres

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A Thousand Acres Book 2, Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Later in the day, Ginny goes to run errands and then visit her father. She thinks about Larry driving all the way to Des Moines by himself. She remembers him praising Ty’s father, also a farmer, for dying of a heart attack instead of living into old age. It occurs to Ginny that Larry must hate himself for signing away his land.
Larry seems to intuit that it’s nobler to die as a young man than as an old one—one of the classic rules of “machismo.” Larry doesn’t want to go through the indignity of becoming an old man who can’t take care of himself: he’s so independent that he doesn’t want to give up his power and agency to his children.
Themes
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon
Ginny arrives at Larry’s house, where she finds him sitting out back. He complains that nobody has brought him eggs. Ginny can tell that his complaint is a challenge: she can either make him breakfast without eggs or she can go get some for him. In the end, Ginny chooses to run home and get some eggs, even though she could have simply gone across the street to get some from Rose.
Larry doesn’t really need eggs, but he’s “flexing” in order to test whether or not he still exerts any power over his children. Ginny is still frightened of her father—even if he doesn’t have any financial control over her, she still remembers how scary he can be.
Themes
Women, Sexual Abuse, and Fertility Theme Icon
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon
Ginny “flashes back” to describe her most recent phone call with Caroline. After learning about Larry’s drive to Des Moines, Ginny talked to Caroline, and learned that Larry went to Caroline’s law offices, drunk, but was sent away before he could see Caroline. Caroline, seemingly annoyed, tells Ginny to take Larry’s keys to stop him from visiting Des Moines again. Then Caroline says that Larry’s “passage of power” clearly hasn’t gone well. By passing on his land to his daughters, and therefore to Ty and Pete, Larry has found himself becoming increasingly irrelevant to the lives of his loved ones. Caroline also accuses Ginny of pretending to be reluctant to accept her father’s land, when in reality she was more than happy to take it from him.
Caroline is the most matter-of-fact of the three siblings. Here, for example, she’s quick to state the obvious—Larry doesn’t like the way his daughters have been treating her since he signed away his money. And yet Caroline isn’t entirely right to criticize Ginny and Rose without blaming Larry too: Larry has been morose and irritable about getting old in general, and he seems disturbed that he has no way of controlling his daughters anymore. He’s depressed, but only because the way he expressed his love to his daughters was never healthy to begin with (and this is even before we learn of his past abuse).
Themes
King Lear and Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Women, Sexual Abuse, and Fertility Theme Icon
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon
Ginny remembers that Caroline always got along with Larry better than she or Rose did. In college, Caroline would have complicated psychological theories about why Larry was the way he was, but Rose would always conclude, “He’s a farmer.” Ginny hangs up the phone, shaking. She can’t tell if she’s feeling guilty or just angry. She decides not to tell Rose about her conversation, lest Rose “assume the antagonism” Caroline was talking about.
Caroline was sure that she could crack Larry’s “code.” Caroline’s behavior suggests that she was genuinely interested in becoming closer with Larry, whereas her older siblings were more likely to avoid thinking too closely about him at all—suggesting either a lack of love (as would be suggested in King Lear) or a wariness based in past trauma.
Themes
King Lear and Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Women, Sexual Abuse, and Fertility Theme Icon
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon
Revenge Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
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