Toward the end of the novel, Ginny Cook Smith learns that her sister, Rose Cook Lewis, has been sleeping with Jess Clark, with whom Ginny herself has been having an affair. Furious with her sister for betraying her, Ginny researches poisons and cooks Rose some sausages poisoned with hemlock, which she places in a jar. Ginny, knowing that Jess is a vegetarian, is hoping that Rose will eat the sausages at some point and die. The jar comes to symbolize Ginny’s (seemingly-irrational) capacity for hatred, jealousy, and revenge. Her desire to be revenged on her abusive father has corrupted Ginny more than it’s punished Larry, leading the two sisters to become broken down by hatred and bitterness, and to turn on each other. Over the years, the jar remains in Rose’s cellar, uneaten—symbolizing Ginny’s longstanding, unrelenting hatred, and her inability to really move on in her life while still burdened by her past and her desire for revenge. (At the same time, some critics have noted that the “jar of sausages” murder plot seems a bit far-fetched and out-of-character even for the jealous Ginny, though it does echo the plot of King Lear.)
The Jar of Sausages Quotes in A Thousand Acres
I have this recurring nightmare about grabbing things that might hurt me, like that straight razor Daddy used to have, or a jar of some poison that spills on my hands. I know I shouldn’t and I watch myself, but I can’t resist.
One of the jars of sausage was close to the edge of the table. I pushed it back and looked at Jess again. For the first time in weeks what was unbearable felt bearable.
I continued to behave as if I was living in the sight of all our neighbors, as Mr. Cartier had told us to. I waited for Rose to die, but the weather was warm for sauerkraut and liver sausage—that was a winter dish.