A Thousand Acres

A Thousand Acres

A Thousand Acres Book 4, Chapter 30 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ginny waits for Jess to stop by talk. Strangely, she only sees him twice, and he’s quiet on both occasions. She’s prepared Jess a bed in Larry’s house—the very bedroom where Larry molested her years ago. Even so, Ginny doesn’t want to tell Jess about her past.
Something has changed with Jess—just as something has changed in Ginny. Strangely, Ginny seems to want to bring Jess into her old bed, the very bed where Larry raped her years ago. Ginny is perhaps trying to replace the memory of Larry with Jess’s concrete presence.
Themes
Women, Sexual Abuse, and Fertility Theme Icon
A few days later, Harold has a bad accident. He’s driving his tractor and there’s a malfunction in one of the hoses in the tractor, and when he tries to repair it, it sprays ammonia into his face. Harold tries to wash the ammonia out of his eyes, but there’s no water in the tank. When Loren comes home that day, he finds his father in agony on the ground, and drives him to the hospital. Nobody was around to take care of Harold: Jess was jogging, Larry was talking to Marv Carson, Ty was working, and Ginny was driving Pammy. At the hospital, Harold discovers that he’s now blind.
This scene is another overt reference to King Lear: just like in the play, the “Gloucester” character (Harold) suddenly goes blind. It’s not a coincidence that Harold goes blind because his family has abandoned him, just as Gloucester had his eyes torn out because of Edmund’s betrayal and Regan and Goneril’s cruelty: both scenes suggest the breakdown of family loyalty. Furthermore, Harold’s blindness suggests the moral blindness of the other characters—their ignorance of each other’s secrets, and their inability to feel compassion for one another or to forgive each other.
Themes
King Lear and Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Women, Sexual Abuse, and Fertility Theme Icon
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Ty tells Ginny about Harold’s blindness, and seems angry that Ginny isn’t more sympathetic. Ginny goes to tell Rose about the accident. Rose is completely unsympathetic to the news: she reminds Ginny of how, years ago, Harold drove his tractor right over a wounded fawn.
At this point, Rose seems beyond sympathy of any kind—at first for Larry, and later for Harold (who, she no doubt remembers, recently defended Larry and called her and Ginny “bitches”). Rose is, at least partly, the victim of her family and neighbors’ sexism and abuse—she’s been made into a vindictive, greedy woman.
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
Jess enters the house, and has a serious talk with Ginny and Rose. Rose accuses Jess of pretending to feel sorry for his father because he wants to make sure that he gives Jess “what he wants.” Rose reminds Jess of how his mother would be excessively timid and meek around Harold—now Jess is making the same mistake, changing his behavior in the hopes that Harold will be nice to him, when in fact he’s never going to change his ways. She warns Jess that Harold is probably looking forward to having another opportunity to humiliate his son. Ginny finds Rose’s speech strangely soothing: she’s not saying anything that Ginny can disagree with.
Rose criticizes Jess for trying to make sure that he inherits Harold’s property—being hypocritical, to say the lest. Rose, one could argue pretty easily, just wanted Larry’s property all along (as she’s told Ginny at the potluck, she wanted the property so that she could erase Larry’s memory from the land forever). Rose doesn’t like that Jess is trying to make up with his father, because she remembers her own mother trying to please Larry, thereby training Larry to expect to get whatever he wants. Rose is talking about Harold, but she’s really talking about her own relationship with Larry.
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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After their conversation, Ginny, Rose, and Jess don’t visit Harold in the hospital at all. When Ginny sees Loren, they don’t talk. Then, one day, Ken LaSalle visits Ginny with a handful of papers, and informs her that Larry is suing her and Rose to reclaim his property—Caroline is party to the suit, too. Ken, who used to be Ginny’s own lawyer, tells Ginny that he doesn’t think she’s behaved well toward her father.
There’s a distance gradually growing in the community, and everyone is picking sides. Rose, eager to maintain her farmland and still haunted by her father’s abuse, doesn’t visit Harold, and criticizes Jess, because she’s still furious with her own father for his crimes. She can’t show sympathy for Harold because she can’t forgive her own father (and Harold’s cruel defense of him). The slow buildup of tension in the community will eventually culminate in a court case. (Ken also seemingly corresponds to Kent in King Lear.)
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