A Thousand Acres

A Thousand Acres

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A Thousand Acres Book 3, Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ginny finds herself becoming annoyed with Ty. Ty was lucky: his father died just as Ty was becoming a man, sparing Ty the indignity of having to take care of an elderly, senile man.
Ginny distances herself from Ty and becomes more attracted to Jess. Ty can’t relate to Ginny’s problems with Larry because he never took care of his own father.
Themes
Women, Sexual Abuse, and Fertility Theme Icon
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon
In the days following Larry’s accident, the police impound his car, and Ginny sees that it was almost destroyed in Larry’s accident. Ginny’s main source of happiness during the fallout from Larry’s accident is Jess; she finds herself imagining Jess’s beautiful, muscular body.
Larry begins abusing his property: because he has already passed on his most important possessions to his children, he treats his other possessions like trash.
Themes
Women, Sexual Abuse, and Fertility Theme Icon
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Harold Clark begins to talk about changing his will. One afternoon Ginny is driving Linda and Pammy to the pool, and she runs into Harold while stopping for gas. Harold is talking to the cashier, Dollie, at a store, telling her about how it’s hard to divide one’s property between two sons, even if it’s the “right thing” to do. After Harold leaves, Ginny chats with Dollie, and Dollie notes that she’s never been comfortable with Jess, because he behaves like a tourist.
Harold, it had seemed, was planning to include Jess in the family will. And yet here he makes a big show of implying that he’s going to write Jess out of the will, even saying that it’s a pain to have to include one more than one child. Harold’s complaint could also signal the opposite, however—that Jess is becoming his favorite child, and it’s a pain to include Loren now. (We have so little knowledge of Loren and his relationship with his family that it’s difficult to say.) Also, the passage is an early sign that not everybody sees Jess as Ginny sees him: it’s because Ginny is so restless and rebellious that she idolizes Jess the adventurer.
Themes
Women, Sexual Abuse, and Fertility Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
One day, shortly afterwards, Jess, Harold, and Loren come by to drop off some frozen supplies with Ty and Ginny. Jess kisses Ginny when Ty isn’t looking, and tells her to meet him in the dump. While delivering the frozen supplies, Harold chews out Loren for making a mistake with the chemical sprayer and Jess angrily defends his brother, even pushing Harold away from Loren. Harold, much to Ginny’s surprise, laughs and apologizes instead of fighting back.
Jess finally shows his true feelings for Ginny. The passage contrasts the new sexual tension between Jess and Ginny with the family tension between Harold and Loren (while the chemical sprayer also foreshadows the scene in which Harold goes blind). We also see just how much Jess is the “favorite” now—he can even defuse his father’s anger without repercussions.
Themes
Women, Sexual Abuse, and Fertility Theme Icon
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
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As Jess finishes the delivery and says goodbye to Ginny, he mentions to Ginny that he’s planning to farm organically on Harold’s property after Harold’s death. That night, Ginny and Ty have intense sex, but Ginny thinks about Jess the entire time.
Jess continues to plan a future for himself on the farm—ironically, considering that Ginny seems to like him because he represents an escape from the usual life of a farmer.
Themes
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon
That afternoon, Ginny meets Jess in the dump as they’d planned. They have sex (though Smiley doesn’t describe it, and only says that “afterward,” Ginny shivers). Ginny admits she’s never had an affair before, and also confesses she’s had five miscarriages in the past, though Ty only knows about three of them. Jess suggests, “it’s the water.”
Notice the differences between the way Smiley describes sex with Ty (in vivid detail) and sex with Jess (in no detail at all). It’s as if sex with Jess is so pleasurable (or guilt-inducing) that Ginny can’t describe it—Ginny thinks of Jess as the answer to all her problems, opening up to him about the most intimate parts of her life. Also note that Jess believes that the farming chemicals and pesticides in the water have poisoned Ginny’s body—a possibility that Ginny will take to heart.
Themes
Women, Sexual Abuse, and Fertility Theme Icon
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Ginny eats dinner with Ty that night, and they discuss having a child. Ginny says she was wearing a diaphragm when they had sex last night. She remembers that she last had a miscarriage two years ago.
Ginny wants have a child; indeed, her persistence in attempting to have one suggests that she believes her life will never be complete until she succeeds.
Themes
Women, Sexual Abuse, and Fertility Theme Icon
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon