Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Walden farm

Walden farm. Sixty-acre farm in Georgia with more than twenty acres cratered with excavated holes from ten to thirty feet deep. The holes and craters make it impossible to cultivate the land around the farmhouse. The promise of gold, based on an old report that a nugget was found there, keeps the Waldens from planting crops that could allow them to live reasonably well. Instead they live from hand to mouth, waiting for a gold strike that never happens. Eventually, the land is tainted by the blood of one of the Waldens’ sons, when Buck shoots and kills his brother Jim Leslie in a jealous rage.

God’s little acre

God’s little acre. Constantly shifting parcel of the Walden farm that TyTy dedicates to God. In a none-too-pious concession to his Christian beliefs, TyTy dedicates one acre of his land to God but regularly negates the gesture by reassigning the acre whenever it stands in the path of his gold-digging work. The acre represents TyTy’s belief that there is within him “some aspect of God.” As he shifts the parcel around, however, he devastates more and more of the land. TyTy moves the acre each time he, his sons, and the African American workers start a new hole. The final time that he moves the acre is after his son Buck shoots Jim Leslie. Wanting to ensure that Buck will be on God’s land as he walks away from the killing, TyTy wishes that the acre will follow Buck everywhere he walks that...

(The entire section is 518 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Caldwell was never particularly interested in the carefully plotted, highly structured tale, and his novels especially are often rambling,...

(The entire section is 308 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

God's Little Acre and Tobacco Road (1932) are the works for which Caldwell is most often remembered. Both books deal with man's...

(The entire section is 339 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Caldwell claims to have studiously avoided modeling himself on any other writer. In his autobiography With All My Might, he explained...

(The entire section is 279 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In addition to God's Little Acre, the book for which Caldwell is best known is Tobacco Road (1932). A cruder, more brutal...

(The entire section is 389 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The most significant adaptation of a Caldwell work is Jack Kirkland's dramatization of Tobacco Road in 1933. Although more comic than...

(The entire section is 151 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Burke, Kenneth. The Philosophy of Literary Form. 3d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973. Contains an article by the author that investigates the symbolic landscape, sexual taboos, fertility rites, caricatures, and grotesques in Caldwell’s two major novels.

Cantwell, Robert, ed. The Humorous Side of Erskine Caldwell. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1951. An introduction to Caldwell’s humorous imagination, which makes the works more impressive and entertaining.

Devlin, James. Erskine Caldwell. Boston: Twayne, 1984. Contains a chapter on the major themes in God’s Little Acre. Extensive annotated list of criticism.

Klevar, Harvey L. Erskine Caldwell: A Biography. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993. A detailed biography. Includes discussion of the Caldwell canon, including background, notoriety, dramatization, and key reviews of God’s Little Acre.

Korges, James. Erskine Caldwell. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1969. An excellent condensed discussion of Caldwell’s works.