A Thousand Acres

A Thousand Acres

A Thousand Acres Epilogue Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the aftermath of Rose’s death and the sale of the farm, Caroline and Ginny find that they owe 34,000 dollars. Caroline pays her half, and Ginny works extra hours, in return for which the IRS won’t burden Linda and Pammy with the debt. Ginny thinks that regret is a part of her inheritance: paid off, 200 dollars a month.
The Epilogue suggests an ironic redemption for Ginny; she works hard to pay off her half of the debt, apparently channeling her guilt and trauma into strict monetary terms.
Themes
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon
Ginny is lonely: she meets men, but never anyone like Jess. However, she has “inherited” Linda and Pammy, and she takes care of them as they finish high school and go to college.
The key word here is “inherited.” Ginny has lost her family—and yet there’s a hint that she’s going to keep the Cook family alive and going, by taking care of her two nieces. Linda and Pamela are the silver lining to Ginny’s story, and to the novel itself, but even here, Ginny won’t get much time with them, since they’re almost adults themselves by now. After inheriting so many other things from her family, Ginny finally inherits the thing she always wanted—children.
Themes
Women, Sexual Abuse, and Fertility Theme Icon
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon
Ginny thinks about her other kinds of inheritance. There are farming chemicals—diesel, plant dust, ammonia, etc.—coursing through her body. She’s also inherited the sad memories of her family history. Ginny walks the streets and feels a wave of sadness whenever she sees a child: children remind her of the five children she might have had, if she hadn’t been “poisoned” by the farm water.
As the novel comes to a close, Ginny is still thinking about all the different kinds of inheritance she’s faced with: her father’s farm, her memories of her father, and the farming chemicals that may have poisoned her entire body (and Rose’s body, too). The tragedy of the book is that Ginny isn’t allowed to choose which parts of the family legacy she inherits and which she gets to avoid: Ginny inherits the farmland and the memory of Larry’s rape; she inherits Linda and Pamela and the toxic chemicals that hurt her body.
Themes
Women, Sexual Abuse, and Fertility Theme Icon
Inheritance, Land, and Memory Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Finally, Ginny thinks of Larry. She can’t forgive him for anything he did, and she often thinks of the way he staggered drunkenly through the house, years ago, and raped her. She thinks of the darkness of those nights, and compares the darkness to an “obsidian shaft,” which she remembers above everything else.
Ginny can’t forgive Larry and, now that he’s dead, she can't confront him about his crimes, either. She’s lost so much over the course of the novel: her family, her property, her husband, etc. In trying to enact a long complicated revenge on the people who wronged her (Larry, Rose), Ginny has only caused herself more pain. And as we see in this pessimistic ending, the basic cause of all Ginny’s pain, her father’s crimes, continues to harm her—it’s buried so deep that she can’t get rid of it.
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
Get the entire Thousand Acres LitChart as a printable PDF.
A thousand acres.pdf.medium