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Posted January 19, 2002
Keeping Peace in the Family!
God¿s Little Acre is Mr. Erskine Caldwell¿s expanded vision of the themes he developed so powerfully in Tobacco Road. Although written in the depths of the Depression, God¿s Little Acre raises many issues about personal freedom and responsibility that will evoke the debates of the 60¿s and 70¿s in your mind. To me, the book still seems controversial, both for its approval of sexual license and for Ty Ty Walden¿s religious arguments in its favor. The story has an amazing balance in its presentation, with both a female and a male character pursuing their appetites in unfettered ways. As with Tobacco Road, God¿s Little Acre also explores the dangers and temptations of obsession. God¿s Little Acre is also interesting in its sensitive treatment of African-American sharecroppers, who are described as both exploited unfairly and as being more aware of human relationships than the Waldens are. This sympathetic treatment reminded me of some of the better parts of Huckleberry Finn. Like Tobacco Road, Mr. Caldwell balances anger, greed, humor, desire and sadness so that almost every event leaves you feeling unsettled and uncomfortable with your conflicted emotions, sometimes even while you are laughing. Whatever you think of the book¿s messages, you cannot help but be impressed by the raw storytelling power of Mr. Caldwell¿s prose and imagination. Reading this book caused me to examine the things that attract me, to try to test more objectively whether they bring benefit or harm if I pursue them. Clearly, obsession can bring a special kind of blindness. The ultimate example for me in the book was Ty Ty¿s desire to be ¿scientific¿ but rejecting the only ¿scientific¿ information that was offered to him about his obsession with finding wealth. May you find the satisfactions that only balance in life¿s pursuits can bring. Donald Mitchell, co-author of The 2,000 Percent Solution and The Irresistible Growth Enterprise
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