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King Lear in a Cornfield

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1 King Lear in a Cornfield
A Thousand Acres: King Lear in a Cornfield "A family portrait that is also a near-epic investigation into the broad landscape, the thousand dark acres of the human heart The book has all the stark brutality of a Shakespearean tragedy." —The Washington Post Book World

2 Basic Information Author—Jane Smiley
Published in 1991; won Pulitzer Prize in 1992 Writes frequently about family dysfunction Widespread critical acclaim upon publication

3 Plot A Thousand Acres King Lear
Larry, the father, decides to retire from farming and divide land among daughters Caroline objects and family argues over their inheritance, destroying sibling relationships Eventually the hidden family conflict surrounding the father’s past emerges and further shakes up the family Side plot of Ginny and her marital and childbearing issues King Lear Lear wishes to retire from power and divide his kingdom among daughters Cordelia objects and is disowned The family argues about rightful ownership of the kingdom, resulting in fighting and bloodshed Sisters duke it out in the end Everyone dies

4 Characters A Thousand Acres Farmer Larry in Iowa
3 daughters-Rose, Ginny, Caroline Husbands-Pete, Ty Ginny’s love interest-Jess Farm setting is also a character that drives action King Lear King Lear in Great Britain 3 daughters—Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia Suitors-various Dukes Goneril’s love interest-Edmund Kingdom is also a character that drives passions and action

5 Themes for Both Novels Father-daughter relationships
Appearance vs. reality The power of nature Order vs. disorder Generational divides Fate vs. free will

6 Important Quotations “I always think that things have to happen the way they do happen, that there are so many inner and outer forces joining at every event that it becomes a kind of fate.” (22) “This isn’t a question of right or wrong, it’s a question of what he wants to do.” “I feel like there’s treacherous undercurrents all the time. I think I’m standing on solid ground, but then I discover that there’s something moving underneath it, shifting from place to place. There’s always some mystery.” (104)

7 Important Quotations “I don’t know why I was surprised to discover everything changed, since it was obvious in retrospect that I had sought to change it.” (172) “When my father asserted his point of view, mine vanished. Not even I could remember it.” (176) “Most issues on a farm return to the issue of keeping up appearances….What his farm looks like boils down to questions of character.” (199) “…a destiny that we never asked for, that was our father’s gift to us.” (220) “In the face of that, if there aren’t some rules, then what is there? There’s got to be something, order, rightness. Justice, for God’s sake.” (235)

8 Important Quotations “People keep secrets when other people don’t want to hear the truth.” (258) “So all I have is the knowledge that I saw! That I saw without being afraid and without turning away, and that I didn’t forgive the unforgivable. Forgiveness is a reflex for when you can’t stand what you know. I resisted that reflex. That’s my sole, solitary, lonely accomplishment.” (356) “Rose left me a riddle I haven’t solved, of how we judge those who have hurt us when they have shown no remorse or even understanding.” (370)

9 Correlation to AP Questions
Many writers use a country setting to establish values within a work of literature. For example, the country may be a place of virtue and peace or one of primitivism and ignorance. Choose a novel or play in which such a setting plays a significant role. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the country setting functions in the work as a whole. (2006) One definition of madness is "mental delusion or the eccentric behavior arising from it." But Emily Dickinson wrote “Much madness is divinest Sense-To a discerning Eye-” Novelists and playwrights have often seen madness with a "discerning Eye." Select a novel or play in which a character's apparent madness or irrational behavior plays an important role. Then write a well-organized essay in which you explain what this delusion or eccentric behavior consists of and how it might be judged reasonable. Explain the significance of the "madness" to the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot. (2001) Choose a novel or play that depicts a conflict between a parent (or a parental figure) and a son or daughter. Write an essay in which you analyze the sources of the conflict and explain how the conflict contributes to the meaning of the work. Avoid plot summary. (1990)

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