Lester farm. Georgia home of Jeeter Lester’s family, near the town of Fuller. A three-room ramshackle house with a sagging porch and leaky roof stands in a grassless yard with a few chinaberry trees here and there. The surrounding cotton fields have not been cultivated for several years and are overgrown. Some seventy-five years before, it had been a promising tobacco farm owned by Jeeter’s grandfather. Running through the property is a tobacco road nearly fifteen miles long, once used to roll tobacco casks to the steamboats on the distant Savannah River.
Jeeter’s inability to produce a reasonable crop from the sandy, depleted soil has left him so heavily in debt that he has turned to sharecropping on what was once his family’s plantation. The soil resists Jeeter’s increasingly weak, though well-intentioned, efforts to grow a sustainable crop. Its infertility mirrors the impotence that gradually overtakes Jeeter and reduces him to little more than a shadow of a man. By the end of the novel, there remains even less of the farm after a fire destroys the old house, leaving only a “tall brick chimney . . . blackened and tomb-like.”
The utter, hopeless poverty so graphically depicted by the Lesters’ plight is representative of the rural squalor and degradation faced by many Americans living at the lowest levels of economic and moral debasement.
(The entire section is 521 words.)