The Effects Of A Family Breakup In "A Thousand Acres"

1340 words - 5 pages

Jane Smiley uses the characters' changing personalities and attitudes in A Thousand Acres to demonstrate the major effect the break up of a family can have on people. Many of the characters change through the novel with some becoming more insular and others becoming more outspoken.

One of the main people to change in the novel is Ginny. However she still has one major factor that remains throughout the novel - she worries about people. In Chapter 28 when she first sees her father after him staying at Harold's she says that the sight of him "startled" her. Also she immediately says to Rose "look at him." This shows that she is still caring for people and shows her pity. This is constant throughout the novel as she always made the breakfast for Larry and worried when he had a crash in his car. The first part of the chapter is on Ginny's description of Larry's dishevelled look and she describes not only his clothing and hair but also his "demeanour." This shows that she is watching him quite closely and suggest that she still worries about after all that has been said.

In this chapter Ginny is still worried about what other people think of her and the family as, when Harold and Larry are talking to other people she says "I longed to hear what he was saying...." She says this as if she is worried about what he might be saying about her and rose and the sense of shame is still upon her. This is a continuation of the behaviour she showed earlier in the novel when she was worried about what people would think of the family after Caroline's performance in the play as a young girl, "whispered horror over the coming humiliation." Ginny is still quite loyal to Larry as she doesn't want to look like she is plotting against him when she asks Rose "Let's not look like we're plotting against him."

But Ginny does get more confidant as the book progresses as she moves from being timid and not wanting confrontation to actually seeking out her father at the church dinner and wanting to know what he has been saying. However she is still being intimidated and controlled by Rose as she is told what to do at the church dinner and not to "drown in that ocean" of pitying him. There is also a sense of temptation when Rose declares that destroying their father isn't enough. She says "it was intoxicating, too, as sweet and forbidden as anything I had ever done" and this is a parallel to the other temptations she has had with Jess and partly with Pete at the quarry.

Ginny never strays from the fact that she is loyal to Rose and constantly sticks by her against Larry, Harold and when Pete dies. This is the same throughout the novel until Rose betrays her by being with Jess. Ginny still has an obsession with Jess as the smile he gives when he enters the room is one that "I felt myself hook onto." This is an ongoing theme throughout the novel of the affair with Jess and only stops once she finds out about Jess and Rose.

Ginny is still showing naivety when it...

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