Perhaps, the major conflict in Michener's novel is the ownership of the land, an ownership which empowers the families to whom the land belongs. After the Colonial Period, the Steed family comes to own the good land. On it they build a powerful life as the great landowners. But, later, the Sneeds lose this land to the very family that once worked the land for the Sneeds. The Turlocks, who have begun as indentured servants eventually become the real-estate owners and salespeople while the Sneeds become decadent and effete.