A Thousand Acres

A Thousand Acres

by

Jane Smiley

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A Thousand Acres Characters

Ginny Cook Smith

The protagonist and narrator of the novel, daughter of Larry Cook and wife of Tyler Smith. Ginny is a frustrated farmer’s daughter, full of repressed desires and thwarted ambitions. Along with Rose Cook Lewisread analysis of Ginny Cook Smith

Rose Cook Lewis

The daughter of Larry Cook, and wife of Pete Lewis. Like her sister, Ginny Cook Smith, Rose is an ambitious, often greedy woman, but Rose is more open about her feelings than… read analysis of Rose Cook Lewis

Caroline Cook

The youngest of Larry Cook’s daughters, and her father’s favorite. Caroline is the only Cook daughter to go to college and (it’s suggested) the only daughter not to be sexually abused by Larry. Largely… read analysis of Caroline Cook

Laurence Cook

The patriarch of the Cook family, and the father of Rose, Caroline, and Ginny, Larry Cook is a proud, intimidating farmer who’s risen to own one thousand acres of fertile farmland. As a younger man… read analysis of Laurence Cook

Harold Clark

Larry Cook’s neighbor and friendly rival, and father to Loren Clark and Jess Clark. Harold Clark is a seemingly easygoing, eccentric old farmer, but on closer inspection, he’s surprisingly shrewd and perceptive. Over… read analysis of Harold Clark
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Jess Clark

The son of Harold Clark, and the brother of Loren Clark, Jess Clark is one of the most ambiguous characters in the novel. Unlike others in his community, Jess seems relatively uninterested in farming… read analysis of Jess Clark

Loren Clark

The son of Harold Clark and the brother of Jess Clark, Loren is a minor character in the text, in spite of his close ties to Jess, Harold, and Larry. Unlike his brother, Jess… read analysis of Loren Clark

Mrs. Cook

While Larry Cook’s wife never appears in the novel, her presence hangs over every page. In flashbacks, we learn that Mrs. Cook was a meek, submissive woman who always gave Larry what he wanted… read analysis of Mrs. Cook

Tyler “Ty” Smith

The husband of Ginny Cook Smith, Ty Smith is a hardworking, ambitious farmer. Over the course of the book, his allegiances are never entirely clear: there are times when he seems to share his… read analysis of Tyler “Ty” Smith

Pete Lewis

The husband of Rose Cook Lewis, Pete is a talented musician, and not a native of Rose’s community. As an outsider among stoic farmers, he’s often treated like a mere “tourist,” even after he… read analysis of Pete Lewis

Marvin Carson

The community’s most prominent banker, who arranges for Tyler Smith and Ginny Cook Smith to borrow money and develop their new farmland. Much as the Fool’s comic status in King Lear allowed him to speak… read analysis of Marvin Carson
Minor Characters
Frank Rasmussin
Caroline Cook’s husband in Des Moines, who never appears in person in the novel. Frank corresponds to the character of the King of France in King Lear.
Henry Dodge
The community’s pastor.
Ken La Salle
The community’s resident lawyer, who represents Larry Cook in court when he tries to sue his two eldest daughters. Ken corresponds to the character of Kent in King Lear.
Cal Ericson
One of Larry Cook’s neighbors, who ended up selling his land to Larry and moving far away.
Mrs. Ericson
Cal Ericson’s wife.
Ruthie Ericson
Cal Ericson’s daughter, and Ginny Cook Smith’s only real friend as a child.
Alison
a woman to whom Jess Clark was engaged.
Mary Livingstone
An elderly woman who knows Larry Cook’s family.
Mel Scott
A poor farmer who was forced to sell his land to Larry Cook.
Dollie
A cashier in town.
Dinah
An antiques store owner.
Nelda
The owner of a café in town.
Jean Cartier
The lawyer who represents Ginny Cook Smith and Rose Cook Lewis in court against their father.
Pamela
Rose Cook Lewis’s daughter, beloved by Ginny and raised by her after Rose’s death.
Linda
Rose Cook Lewis’s other daughter, beloved by Ginny and raised by her after Rose’s death.
John Cook
Larry Cook’s father, and one of the founders of the Cook farm.
Edith Cook
Larry Cook’s mother.