Patrick D. Smith

A Land Remembered

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  • Features 45 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
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A Land Remembered Summary & Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 60-page guide for “A Land Remembered” by Patrick D. Smith includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 45 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Surviving Nature Versus Conquering Nature and Who Owns the Land?.

A Land Remembered is a 1984 historical novel by the American author Patrick D. Smith. Through its multi-generational saga of the MacIvey clan, the book chronicles more than a century of Florida history, beginning with the frontier era of the 1860s. A nominee for the Pulitzer Prize, A Land Remembered has been voted the number-one Best Florida Book 10 times in Florida Monthly magazine’s annual poll.

Plot Summary

In 1968, the wealthy 85-year-old real estate developer Solomon “Sol” MacIvey arrives at his cabin in Punta Rassa, Florida, where he plans to live out his final days. As Sol reflects on his family’s history, the narrative moves to 1863, to the central Florida homestead of Tobias MacIvey, Sol’s grandfather. With his wife, Emma, and their six-year-old son, Zech, Tobias struggles to raise crops in the Florida wilderness, barely overcoming starvation, bear attacks, and bushwhacking Confederate deserters.

One day, Tobias offers food and shelter to a Seminole Indian named Keith Tiger, forging an alliance between the MacIveys and the Seminoles of Big Cypress Swamp that will last for generations. With the help of an ex-slave named Skillit, the MacIveys catch more than a hundred cows, which they plan to sell in the Gulf Coast trading town of Punta Rassa. In 1867, on their first drive to Punta Rassa, a hurricane ravages the prairie, drowning the herd. The next summer, the MacIveys try again with a much larger herd and the help of two drifters named Frog and Bonzo. The drive is a success.

By 1875, the MacIvey Cattle Company is driving up to 3,000 cows a year across Florida. While delivering cows to Keith’s Seminole village, Zech falls in love with a Seminole woman named Tawanda Cypress. Back in central Florida, Zech courts a woman named Glenda Turner, whom he marries. On a summer cattle drive, Glenda suffers a miscarriage. That fall, Zech travels to the Seminole village, and he and Tawanda again have sex.

In 1883, Glenda gives birth to Sol. Over the next 10 years, as railroad and lumber tycoons purchase wide swaths of the frontier, the MacIveys devote more of their energy and resources to growing orange trees, reducing the frequency of their cattle drives. While the MacIveys are in Punta Rassa in the summer of 1892, Zech travels to the Seminole village and discovers he has a nine-year-old son with Tawanda named Toby. Before Zech departs, he and Tawanda have sex a second time.

On the way back to the homestead, Emma suffers a fatal heart attack. That winter, a cold snap freezes the MacIveys’ orange trees. Tobias tries to save the trees and later dies of pneumonia. When a group of Seminoles arrive to pay their respects, Zech learns that Tawanda died giving birth to his stillborn baby. In 1896, Zech is shot in the foot while staging a raid against bushwhackers. He and Sol visit the Seminole village, where a medicine man extracts the bullet, and Sol and Toby bond as half-brothers.

By 1898, the MacIvey orange groves are fully replenished. Rather than embark on increasingly dangerous cattle drives that deliver diminishing financial returns, Zech focuses his efforts on breeding high-quality cattle. While Zech is attempting to brand an aggressive Brahma stud, the bull escapes the pen and gores both Glenda and Frog to death.

In 1905, Zech’s horse panics in a flood and throws Zech from the saddle. Zech’s foot, which never healed properly, becomes caught in the stirrup, and Zech drowns. Tormented by the ghosts of his lost loved ones, Sol abandons the homestead, leaving it in the hands of a trusted caretaker. Over the next two decades, Sol transforms the area around Lake Okeechobee into farmland. This enrages Toby, leading to a period of estrangement between the two half-brothers that lasts over 50 years.

Sol makes millions as a real estate developer in Miami, selling property during a real estate boom, then buying it back after the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926. During the Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928, Sol’s girlfriend drowns when Lake Okeechobee floods, prompting Sol to embark on a project to dam the lake. This has the unintended consequence of diverting water away from Toby’s village, further devastating his community. Over the next few decades, Sol becomes increasingly isolated from the world. The book ends where it began, with Sol dying alone in 1968 in Punta Rassa, haunted by the ghosts of his loved ones and tormented by the destruction he caused to the Florida wilderness.

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