Edna Ferber | Critical Review by Phoebe Lou Adams

This literature criticism consists of approximately 2 pages of analysis & critique of Edna Ferber.
This section contains 509 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Phoebe Lou Adams

Critical Review by Phoebe Lou Adams

SOURCE: "At War with Texas," in The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 190, No. 4, October, 1952, pp. 100-01.

Adams is an American writer and critic. In the following review of Giant, she favorably assesses its plot, themes, and characterizations.

The state of Texas is hero, heroine, villain, and supporting cast in Edna Ferber's new novel, Giant and at that, Miss Ferber doesn't pretend to deal with the whole state. She has settled for that portion of Texas with more than ten millions, plus its Mexican retainers. That adds up to a large number of people, but Texas overshadows all of them.

Although Miss Ferber writes to entertain, and never fails to do it with an expert mixture of action, sentiment, humor, and melodrama, two themes not usually classed as entertainment have appeared in most of her novels. One is the corrosive effect of money, and the other is the evil of group prejudices. Texas, rich and frankly anti-Mexican, was made to order as a showcase for these topics, and at times Miss Ferber seems on the verge of forgetting her plot altogether in order to pursue them. She never quite does it, though.

The plot in question has to do with Leslie Lynnton, more or less of Virginia, who marries Jordan Benedict, very decidedly of Reata Ranch, and begins a war with Texas that will last as long as she lives, to say nothing of the length of a novel. She dislikes the cooking, the lack of intellectual activity, the preoccupation with money, and the virtual disenfranchisement of citizens with Mexican ancestry. "When the hell are you going to settle down and behave like everybody else?" roars her exasperated husband, who is quite satisfied with Texas as it stands. "Never," says Leslie.

The Benedict family fracas rolls through the book, never losing the reader's interest because of the variety and picturesqueness of the life that inspires it. Although Leslie and Jordan refuse to change, Texas changes around them at astonishing speed. It seems to get bigger and more ornate with every paragraph. A vote by the assembled Benedict clansmen compels Jordan to permit oil wells on Reata, and the oil wells reduce cattle ranching, the love of his life, to the status of a rich man's toy. The children get disconcerting ideas. The feudal devotion of the Mexican ranch hands dies with the old men whose sons, back from Iwo Jima or the Coral Sea, display an unaccountable resentment of the status of second-class citizens. Cattle millionaires, once scorned by cotton millionaires, now scorn oil millionaires. Practically everybody is a millionaire, though, with more money, brighter jewels, stronger liquor, bigger airplanes, colder air-conditioning plants, and duller conversation than anyone else on earth.

Miss Ferber makes no predictions about the future of Texas. She records her view of the state's present tartly, deftly, with a relish for bizarre detail. Uncle Bawley (a charming but tearful old gentleman who discovers after fifty years of ranching that he is allergic to cattle) draining bacon on a cow chip is a figure not easily forgotten.

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This section contains 509 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Phoebe Lou Adams
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