Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
The Whiteoaks of Jalna were quite a family. The parents were dead, and the children, ranging in age from eight to more than forty, were held together by Renny, the oldest son, and tyrannized by Grandma Whiteoak, a matriarch of ninety-nine years. The family estate of Jalna had been founded by Grandfather Whiteoak, but it had dwindled somewhat from its original greatness. By common consent, Renny managed the farms and the family, although he frequently encountered resistance from both.
Meg, the oldest daughter, had been engaged in her youth to Maurice Vaughan, a neighbor and a friend of the family. While he waited out the long engagement insisted upon by Meg, he had become entangled with a low-class girl and fathered a child, Pheasant. The girl had disappeared, and Maurice had grudgingly raised Pheasant. Meg, deaf to the pleas of Maurice and her family for a forgiving heart, had broken the engagement and gone into almost complete retirement. Maurice was never allowed at Jalna again, although he and Renny served in the war together and remained friends.
Renny had remained a bachelor, the head of the family, and a man with quite a reputation with women. Only his passions had been involved in these affairs, however, and thus it seemed that he would never marry. Renny accepted his power and his position but seemed not greatly to enjoy either.
The rest of the children were half brothers to these two. Eden was a poet and a dreamer. Farm...
(The entire section is 1119 words.)
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