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"A Thousand Acres" Analysis: Jane Smiley's Folly Why Rewrites Are A Bad Idea

904 words - 4 pages

In Jane Smiley's "A Thousand Acres", the main focus is one of the family and familial relationships. Smiley presents what at first seems to be a typical American farm family, but is quickly revealed to be anything but. Her message is quite clear (since she stole it from Shakespeare); love in its very nature is something one cannot measure, attempting to do so can only lead to disaster. However, Smiley has put a new spin on the love involved in the love test, a sort of hybrid of "honor thy mother and thy father" and an Oedipal complex, not true love, but what comes only with one type of love; the love of a man and a woman. This love cannot be transferred to other types of love, that of father and daughter. Smiley's novel revolves around the consequences of confusing lust with love, and the love of a wife with the love of a daughter.Telling the novel only through Ginny's perspective serves to clarify and focus the events through the lens of a child's fragile, blind love. However, this love is a clingy, needy love that her father cannot return, not true love: "'Well, Daddy, it looks like we picked all the same things.' He ignored me" (218), and thus Ginny has sown the seeds of her own demise. She falls prey to it as soon as she expects her father to return her "love" in the same fashion that she expresses it, namely, by being bloody annoying. Smiley is portraying how not to show one's love, and she does so with each of the children in the novel.With Rose, Smiley portrays an aggressive love, with a demanding nature, one that her father cannot match. Her loved, also attention based, relies more on angering her father in order to see how much he cares about her. She rebels against his rules, but only as a test of his devotion. Caroline's love, however, is something she takes for granted; she cares the least about her father's approval, unless it is to spite her sisters: "Daddy still wasn't to know... She just wanted this life to her self..." (242), "She squirms upward and plants a kiss on his cheek... certain we are envious" (306). All of the sisters cannot love their father in their own ways, without expecting him to love them each in the same manner.Larry, however, is incapable of anything more than mere affection and remorse. His rape of his daughters has stripped him, and them, of some of their ability to love, whether the ability to love others, (Rose) or the ability to love themselves, (Ginny): "One thing Daddy took from me when he came to me in my room at night was the...

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