Literature Study GuidesA Thousand AcresBook 6 Chapters 42 43 Summary

A Thousand Acres | Study Guide

Jane Smiley

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A Thousand Acres | Book 6, Chapters 42–43 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 42

Ginny is working as a waitress at a restaurant off the interstate in Minnesota when she learns, months after it happens, Larry died of a heart attack in the grocery. She expresses calm surprise Rose hasn't died yet from the poisoned sausages. Ginny signs over her share in the farm to Ty, and he and Rose split the thousand acres in half. After a few months, Jess leaves Rose and moves west, and Ginny is incensed by how Rose tells her this as if Ginny would sympathize. "Otherwise, my life passed in a blur," Ginny says. "I forgot I was still alive."

Chapter 43

Three years later Ginny is still waitressing at the same restaurant when Ty shows up. He wasn't able to make enough money on the expansion to keep running the farm, so he signed his half over to Rose and is headed to Texas looking for a job on a corporate hog operation there. Times are bad for farmers in Zebulon County, he says, telling her Bob Stanley shot himself in the head.

When Ty asks her for a divorce, Ginny is surprised because she stopped feeling married a long time before. So when they argue, it isn't about ending their marriage, but about what happened with Larry. To Ty's way of thinking, they were going along fine until "Rose got selfish and you went along with her, and then it was all wrong," adding, "I thought you'd repent." That stirs up Ginny's righteous anger at last. She shouts at Ty he betrayed her by talking to Caroline and not taking Ginny's side about what happened the night Larry went out in the storm.

At the end they agree to disagree; each of them looks at life differently. Ty walks out, saying he doesn't want to live in this "ugly way," but he guesses he'll have to get used to it.

Analysis

Is it the hard-won strength of a survivor or the brittle fragility of someone who has not yet healed that Ginny displays in these two chapters? She has forged a humble but independent new life for herself she seems to like, not just endure. And when Ty shows up to ask for a divorce, it is clear she has long ago come to terms with the dissolution of their marriage.

On the other hand, Ginny does say she has perhaps forgotten she is alive. This is underscored by the ominously detached way she talks about her father's death. Five days after the court hearing, she relates, "He had a heart attack in the cereal aisle. I imagined him falling into the boxes of cornflakes." Ginny's own heart seems petrified in the stony words of these sentences.

It is when she speaks of Rose readers realize how damaged Ginny still is. In Chapter 43 the first thing Ginny wants to know when Ty shows up in the restaurant is whether Rose is dead yet. And in Chapter 42 Ginny admits reading Rose's letters inflames her to the point she still wonders when Rose will eat the poisoned sausage. Ginny is not as unscathed as she would like to think.

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