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A Thousand Acres | Characters

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Character Description
Ginny Cook Smith Ginny Smith, 36, is a quiet Iowa farm wife who rarely expresses her feelings, even to herself. She lives next door to both her father and younger sister Rose, and considers herself contentedly married to husband Ty Smith despite suffering five miscarriages. Read More
Rose Cook Lewis Rose Lewis, 34, is the stubborn and outspoken middle daughter who thought she was escaping the farm and her family when she married her musician husband, Pete Lewis. She gave birth to two daughters, and they all ended up back on a farm right next door to her father and older sister Ginny. Read More
Larry Cook Shrewd and domineering, Larry Cook is intensely proud of the thousand-acre farming kingdom he has built in rural Iowa. To expand what he has built and protect it from inheritance taxes, Larry shocks his family with the announcement that he wants to retire, incorporate the farm, and divide it equally among his three daughters. Read More
Caroline Cook Caroline Cook, 28, is the youngest of three daughters and has distanced herself from her father and sisters by choosing to practice law in Des Moines. When she marries a fellow attorney, she keeps her maiden name. Read More
Ty Smith Ty Smith is a patient and easy-going man who believes the best way to resolve conflict is to overlook it and focus on the positive instead. He loves hog farming, so when Larry announces his plan to incorporate the farm, Ty is excited about the possibility of a major expansion of his hog operation. Read More
Jess Clark Jess Clark was drafted 13 years ago for the Vietnam War but no one has heard from him since he walked away from basic training. His father Harold welcomes him home with a celebratory pig roast but Jess's vegetarian, organic ways do not sit well with most of the local farmers—except Ginny. Read More
Pete Lewis Pete Lewis is a talented musician whose mercurial temper keeps him from making even a modest living doing what he loves. As a result, he returns home to Zebulon County and accepts a house and farm from his father-in-law, Larry. Read More
Joshua Benton Joshua Benton is a ninth grade student who is the boyfriend of Linda Lewis's friend Doreen Patrick. He has a driver's license that allows him to drive to school.
Marv Carson Marv Carson is a local banker who urges Harold to take out a large loan to buy an expensive tractor and also instigates Larry's decision to incorporate and deed his farm to his daughters. Although not all reviewers agree, some assert Marv Carson corresponds to the Fool in King Lear.
Jean Cartier Jean Cartier is a French Canadian lawyer in Mason City who defends the two sisters, Ginny and Rose, against the lawsuit brought against them by their sister, Caroline, and their father, Larry.
Harold Clark Harold Clark is Larry's best friend. He joyously welcomes the return of his prodigal older son, Jess, while denigrating his younger son, Loren, despite the fact Loren helps him tend his debt-free 500-acre farm. Harold corresponds to the Earl of Gloucester in King Lear.
Loren Clark Loren Clark is the dutiful younger son of Harold who has never married and still lives at home, helping his father farm their 500 acres. He corresponds to the Earl of Gloucester's legitimate son, Edgar, in King Lear.
Verna Clark Verna Clark is Harold Clark's wife and the mother of Loren and Jess. She dies of metastatic breast cancer before the book begins.
Edith Davis Cook Edith Cook is Ginny's grandmother, the daughter of Sam and Arabella Davis. She married John Cook, the man who helped her parents build their farm, and gave birth to son Larry.
John Cook John Cook immigrated to Iowa from England at the same time as Sam and Arabella Davis and worked with them to drain marshland and turn it into arable cropland. He married their daughter Edith and is the father of Larry.
Mother Cook The one member of the Cook family whose first name is never revealed, she is Larry's wife and the mother of Ginny, Rose, and Caroline. She dies of an unspecified illness when Ginny is 14.
Arabella Davis Arabella Davis is Ginny's great-grandmother who immigrated to Iowa from England with her husband Sam in 1890. Her daughter Edith married their farming partner, John Cook.
Sam Davis Sam Davis is Ginny's great-grandfather who immigrated to Iowa in 1890 with his wife Arabella. Together with her and partner John Cook, he helped install the drainage system that turned marshland into the fertile Cook farm.
Henry Dodge Henry Dodge is the minister of the Lutheran church attended by all the Cooks. He tries to reconcile the family when they are pitted bitterly against each other.
Dollie Convenience store cashier Dollie warns Ginny Harold Clark is not going to live up to his promise to make a will leaving his farm to one of his sons. Later she finds Larry rocking aimlessly in the corn field and takes him home.
Dinah Drake Dinah Drake is the gossipy owner of an antique store in Cabot.
Cal Ericson Although he owns 370 acres, Cal Ericson is considered an outsider because he is an engineer who bought the land from a cousin, farms more for fun than for profit, and owes a mortgage on his property. Cal is forced to sell his farm to Larry, who later gives the house and land to Ginny and her new husband Ty right after their marriage.
Dinah Ericson Dinah Ericson is one of Cal Ericson's two daughters, and a girlhood neighbor of the Cooks. She had a window seat in her closet Ginny always envied.
Elizabeth Ericson Ginny admires Cal Ericson's Chicago-born wife Elizabeth Ericson, and is saddened when she moves away soon after Ginny's mother dies.
Ruthie Ericson When they were both little, Cal Ericson's daughter Ruthie Ericson fed Ginny 27 baby aspirin, sending Ginny to the hospital with an overdose.
Ken LaSalle Cook family attorney Ken LaSalle chooses to represent Larry and Caroline in their lawsuit over the farm, telling Ginny he does not think she has treated her father right. His wife leaves him at Christmas to get a job in Minnesota.
Linda Lewis Oldest daughter of Rose and Pete Lewis, Linda Lewis is in seventh grade and has been sent away to boarding school by her mother to protect her from her grandfather, Larry. Ginny admires her prettiness and physical grace but doesn't love her as much as she does her younger niece, Pammy Lewis.
Pammy Lewis Youngest daughter of Rose and Pete Lewis, Pammy Lewis is in sixth grade and has been sent away to boarding school by her mother to protect her from her grandfather, Larry. Ginny feels much closer to Pammy than to her older niece, Linda Lewis.
Mary Livingstone Mary Livingstone is a local grandmother who is retiring to homes in Florida and Wisconsin after she and her husband sell their farm for a million dollars on Marv Carson's advice.
Nelda Nelda is a café owner in town. Ginny thinks she treats her coldly out of disapproval of the way Ginny and Rose are treating their father, Larry.
Lyle Ottarson Lyle Ottarson is a local judge who oversees the court hearing on the lawsuit Caroline and Larry filed to regain full ownership of the thousand-acre farm.
Doreen Patrick Doreen Patrick is one of Pammy Lewis's friends and has an older boyfriend who can drive.
Frank Rasmussen Caroline's husband Frank Rasmussen is an attorney in Des Moines. He is the counterpart to the king of France in King Lear.
Mel Scott Newt Stanley's cousin, Mel Scott signed over his farm to Larry when he couldn't pay the property taxes on it and then moved away. The Stanleys are still bitter because they think Larry took advantage of him.
Bob Stanley Bob Stanley is a local farmer who didn't let his antipathy to Larry Cook keep him from having a summer-long affair with Rose years ago. He shoots himself in the head when financial difficulties cause him to lose his farm.
Marlene Dahl Stanley Bob's widow Marlene Dahl Stanley is one of Ginny's high school friends. Marlene has to take a job as a teacher's aide after her husband's suicide.
Martin Stanley Although the novel does not specify this, it is probable court bailiff Martin Stanley is related to Bob and Newt Stanley in some way.
Newt Stanley Bob Stanley's father Newt Stanley refuses to speak to Larry because he believes Larry swindled his cousin Mel Scott out of his farm.
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