f THE LIBRARY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LOS ANGELES The Good Earth by PEARL S BUCK THE ALBATROSS AUTHORISED EDITION NOT TO. The Good Earth () - Buck's most famous novel, it won a Pulitzer Prize. The Good Earth is the first part of a trilogy which includes Sons () and A House. Royal University of Phnom Penh Institute of Foreign Languages The Department of English Literature Studies Written Assignment: Chapter Summary.
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The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. About the book. Pulitzer Prize, Wang Lung, rising from humble Chinese farmer to wealthy landowner, gloried in the soil he. And he stooped and took up a handful of the soil and he held it and he muttered: ' If you sell the land, it is the end.' The Good Earth, Pearl S. "The Good Earth" Pearl S. Buck. 1., story. Pearl S. Buck "Good Earth". 2., author. Pearl Buck was born in the United States, but was taken to China at an early age .
The Pulitzer Prize—winning classic novel of China, together with its two sequels—by the Nobel Prize winner. With luck and hard work, the couple's fortunes improve over the years: They are blessed with sons, and save steadily until one day they can afford to download property in the House of Wang—the very house in which O-lan used to work. But success brings with it a new set of problems.
Wang soon finds himself the target of jealousy, and as good harvests come and go, so does the social order. Will Wang's family cherish the estate after he's gone? The family's story continues in Sons and A House Divided , when the Revolution sweeping through China further unsettles Wang Lung's family in this rich and unforgettable portrait of a family and a country in the throes of widespread national change.
Open Road Media Publication Date: Buck Author Pearl S. Buck was a bestselling and Nobel Prizewinning author. Born in Hillsboro, West Virginia, Buck was the daughter of missionaries We want your feedback! The harvest is gathered, the threshing must be done, and then the fields need to be plowed and planted again for winter wheat.
The baby sleeps on an old quilt on the ground, and when he wakes O-lan feeds him. Because she has an abundance of milk, the well-fed baby is fat and good-natured. The harvest, too, is plentiful. The little house is crowded with jars of woven reeds brimming with wheat and rice.
Wang stores his surplus against winter and high prices. From the rafters hang strings of garlic and onions, and a leg of pork and two chickens that O-lan has salted down for the winter. The winter rains come, and the winter wheat sprouts. With no farm work to do, the farmers visit one another, drinking tea and gossiping.
Wang Lung does little of this, however. Instead, he enjoys quiet hours spent mending farm implements, with O-lan nearby repairing earthen jars and household tools and making clothes and cloth shoes for the family. When Wang Lung sells his produce he has a good handful of silver pieces above what they need. O-lan digs a hole in the earthen wall of their bedroom, Wang thrusts in the silver, and she closes the hole with a clod of earth. Some disturbing comments are introduced into this scene of prosperity and contentment.
They will be envious or ask to borrow. He is also afraid to let his neighbors know that he has silver hidden away. Their house is ramshackle, their children are unruly, and the uncle sells his produce at the peak of harvest and at the lowest price for ready cash. You can expect to hear more of this shiftless uncle and his family.
Remember to think about how silver is used to symbolize wealth apart from the land. He hangs strips of red paper with good luck mottoes on the doors and a paper flower over the doorway. His old father cuts out new robes of red paper for the little earth gods.
Houses are cleaned thoroughly and ritually rid of evil spirits, elaborate foods are prepared, and gifts are given. In addition, there are firecrackers to chase evil spirits and dances, and rice cakes or steamed bread is eaten. On the second day Wang Lung, O-lan, and their baby boy, dressed in the new clothes O-lan has made for them, go to the House of Hwang. This time the gate- man treats Wang with respect and offers him tea while he escorts O-lan and the baby to the Old Mistress.
O-lan returns looking contented. However, she has seen signs that the House of Hwang is in trouble: To cap this back-stairs gossip, the Old Mistress herself has told O-lan that they will sell some of their good rice land. The Good Earth contains many marvelous turns of phrase like those of the cook and the Old Mistress.
Wang impulsively declares that he will download the land. O-lan protests that it is too far away. Why not download the land which his uncle has to sell? He has farmed it for twenty years and put nothing back into the land. Even Wang Lung is not the same. He is no longer the timid peasant who came to the House of Hwang a year ago to claim his bride.
With this act, Wang Lung will embark on a new course in life, stepping over a threshold that few peasants in any country, let alone China, can ever cross. From a poor subsistence farmer living on the edge of survival, he is about to become a comfortable landowner.
Without exchanging a word about it, he and O-lan are both aware that they are working together at this joint enterprise and that they are succeeding.
Their contentment with each other shines through their quiet, almost wordless companionship. You may see a further, more subtle change: O-lan has now achieved equal status, at least privately, with her husband. She still observes the forms, still walks the proper six paces behind him. But now he discusses with her the great new project of downloading land. She dares to offer an opposing opinion, and Wang Lung listens and answers her as he would answer an equal.
He hastily hides the baby in his coat and talks of their worthless, pockmarked female child. Taking the cue, O-lan agrees. Consider this reminder of evil spirits and the power of fortune to change things as you read the following chapters.
As things change for Wang and O-lan, ask yourself whether it is really fortune fate or something else that destroys their happiness. Is it nature? Human nature?
Could Wang Lung have done anything or not done anything to avoid the next series of events? It may not cheer him to remember that O-lan predicted this. He misses the comfort of having silver hidden in the wall. And he bought the land, not from the Old Lord, who was still sleeping although it was noon, but from the oily agent, thus missing all the glory of dealing with the head of the House of Hwang. To Wang Lung the difference between him and the Great House seems as high as the city wall and as wide as the moat.
Spring comes with rain and wind, and Wang and O-lan toil in the fields from dawn to dark. She is pregnant again and Wang is cross with her. The birth will come at harvest when he will need her help.
She says this birth will be nothingonly the first is hard. As she predicts, she gives birth in the morning and is back beside him by afternoon, gathering the sheaves. It is a boy. Again the harvest is good. All the village now knows that Wang Lung is prospering.
Wang Lung is not always a gentle, considerate husband. When he is overworked he can be rough. On this day he has not even stopped at midday to rest and eat because a thunderstorm threatens and the harvest must be cut and bound before the storm. He sees that O-lan is tired when she comes back to the field after giving birth. But he thinks he has suffered as much this day with his toil as she has with her childbirth. Do you think O-lan carries her courage and independence too far?
Would she get more kindness from Wang Lung if she showed a little weakness? You might think that she could just as well have stayed in the house and rested, instead of venturing out again to help him. Would you say that Pearl Buck is telling you something further about O-lan?
Might she want you to see that O-lan cares as much as Wang about their land, their harvest, and their prosperity, that she is willing, as he is, to work to exhaustion in their joint effort to rise from poverty? He meets the eldest, a girl of fifteen, her hair uncombed, talking immodestly with men. But her husband has an evil destiny. For him nothing grows but weeds.
Then the uncle himself comes to Wang to complain of his bad luck. He scolds Wang for criticizing him and threatens to spread it through the village that Wang has been disrespectful.
Meanwhile O-lan has given birth again, to a daughter this time. Back in his field, Wang sees a flight of crows, an evil omen. You may know people like them, who blame bad luck for all their troubles. You are forewarned that in time this uncle and his family will create even bigger problems for Wang.
Meanwhile the omens multiply. A girl is born: Consider the matter of the evil omens. Do you think Wang may have seen flights of crows on other occasions and never noticed them? This time, however, he has already had the encounter with his uncle, which cost him money, and the birth of a daughter, which in Chinese eyes is a misfortune, so perhaps he is ready to see evil omens everywhere.
Meanwhile O-lan becomes pregnant again so that her milk dries and she is unable to feed her baby girl. With the food stores gone, the ox must be killed to feed the family. The first time, Wang gives him a handful of beans and corn. The second time, he does not dare to share what little is left to feed his own family.
The uncle spreads word in the village that his nephew has food and refuses to share. They are about to take his furniture when O-lan intervenes.
If he still had the silver or had bought food with it, the neighbors would have taken it all. Here again the value of land is superior to mere money. You have frequently read in the newspapers and seen on television accounts of drought and starvation in Africa and India. Today prosperous nations contribute to the relief of the starving. When The Good Earth takes place, however, the outside world hardly heard of the periodic famines in China.
In that vast country a drought might strike one region while others had plentiful rain and good harvests. The lack of a strong central government and provincial selfishness provided at least part of the answer. Wang decides that his family will migrate south.
O-lan says to wait only a day and she will have given birth. Ching brings a handful of dried beans to help O-lan through her childbirth. Wang saves a few beans to feed his starving baby daughter. O-lan gives birth, alone as before, and the newborn, a girl, is dead. Wang takes the body out to bury, but he is too weak to dig a grave in the dry, hardened earth.
Would you have counseled her otherwise? Pearl Buck saw the effects of famine during her childhood in China. She must also have known of the practice of female infanticide among poor women. A baby girl was considered worthless, only another mouth to feed or at best a slave you could sell later on. Infanticide, the killing of newborn babies, has been known in many parts of the world in both ancient and modern times. In some cultures it was an accepted custom and not against the law.
The Romans, as well as the Spartans of ancient Greece, put unwanted infants in the wilderness to die of exposure or be killed by wild animals. Wang sees his second son crawling, too weak to stand, and is tempted, but then bursts into tears of weakness and anger and refuses.
O-lan backs him up. They will not sell the land, but they will sell the furniture. She accepts the two pieces of silver the men pay her, scarcely the price of one bed. Now, she says, it is time to go. His three youngest children have disappeared; he does not say where.
The implication is that the uncle and his wife, like others in the village, have taken to cannibalism. They take only the clothes they wear, except that O-lan gives each of her small sons a bowl and chopsticks, a promise of food to come.
Wang carries his frail little girl until he sees his father stumbling and about to fall. He then gives the child to O-lan and takes his father on his back. They pass the Great House, its gates shut tight and a few famished people huddled there. Outside the town, Wang and his family join the flood of refugees.
When the train comes the crowd pushes them along, clinging together, into the railroad car. Wang pays the fare for the hundred mile trip south with his two pieces of silver, and downloads a little food with some of the change. A man in the train, who has been through this before, advises Wang to save a few coppers for mats to build a shelter.
There are public kitchens where the poor can download cooked rice, as much as one can eat for a penny. They must get the rest of their food by begging. Wang will not beg. Well, then he can wear himself out taxiing the rich in a two-wheeled, hand-pulled riksha. They reach the city, and all turns out as the man on the train said.
O-lan, ever resourceful, remembers from her childhood how to make a hut against a wall where others have built theirs. They eat their rice at the soup kitchen, then go back to their shelter and fall into exhausted sleep. The next morning Wang looks to O-lan to say what should be done. Again, she remembers. She leads the little boys and the old man out to the street where they will hold out their bowls and call to passersby.
When the little boys consider it a game, she spanks them soundly until, with tear-streaked faces, they are fit to beg. Wang Lung rents a riksha and learns that he must bargain with a customer for a fare.
The old man sits by the roadside, dozing and forgetting to beg. After the horror of the starving village, the change of scene is welcome. With Wang and his family you have your first glimpse of a teeming city. Here food is plentiful and people of means provide something for the poor. But some must do it out of a good heart? To this Wang gets no answer. You might consider whether the family would have survived to this point without her firmness of will and her calm, practical approach to each situation, however strange or shocking.
He sleeps with it clutched in his hand and pays for his rice himself the next day. This first day in the city reveals the ironic fate of the working poor.
June 26, 1892 - March 6, 1973
He smells tempting cooking odors, hears music and the click of dice but never sees what is going on inside buildings. When a street orator calls for revolution against foreigners, Wang is frightened, thinking he and his family are those foreigners. Foreign traders had gradually acquired certain rights to do business in China and during the early nineteenth century had forced the Chinese imperial government to grant them more and more concessions by threat of force.
The Boxers, as they were called in English, gained popularity and strength by intriguing with the Empress Dowager against the Emperor and in outbreaks of violence against Europeans occurred. Pearl Buck herself experienced this threat as a little girl. The rebellion was eventually crushed by the intervention of the Western powers and Japan. One day Wang Lung has a strange-looking passenger- is this male or female?
She pays him double the fare and rebukes him for running himself to death. He is amazed at the abundance and variety of food in the markets. Surely no one could starve in this city! Yet every dawn, he and his family join a long line of people for their penny bowl of thin rice gruel at the public kitchens. Do you think the desperate condition of farmers is different from this? The author also is commenting on the nature of public welfare.
Is it suggested that welfare is a permanent condition in cities or only a stopgap in times of crisis? What about the moral tone? Wang is worried that his second son is becoming adept at stealing. He tells himself that they must get back to the land.
But how? Did Buck sketch herself into this scene, as the film director Alfred Hitchcock always put himself into one of his own scenes? Buck was a tall woman and she may well have worn a long black coat, but she certainly did not speak broken Chinese. How would you feel, sitting in a carriage pulled by a man so thin he was obviously half-starved? In the slum around their hut, children are born and die with such frequency that even their parents scarcely know how many there have been.
O-lan is pregnant again. With spring in the air, Wang longs for the fields which he should be plowing. If they had something to sell, he tells O-lan, they could go home now. O-lan answers that they have something, their daughter. A neighbor who works all night pulling heavy supply wagons into the city tells them he has sold two daughters and will sell a third if the child his wife is now carrying turns out to be a girl. Others kill their newborn daughters but he sells his.
Wang Lung considers selling his small daughter. She would be fed and clothed, and he would be able to take the family back to the land. This is one of the ways to survive, when the poor are too poor. Wang has almost de- cided to sell his small daughter. But to you this is a promise. After wondering how Wang and his family can ever escape from this situation, you might now expect some dramatic turn in their story.
One leaflet shows Jesus, another depicts a fat rich man standing over a worker who is skin and bones. Christianity and Communism were two of the alternatives being offered the desperate.
Both, you should notice, were systems foreign to China. Wang understands nothing of all this. But one day he sees soldiers dragging away men like himself. The shopkeeper who hides him explains that the soldiers are capturing the men in preparation for a battle nearby. Wang Lung, to avoid being seized, changes his work to hauling the heavy wagons at night, for half as much as he made with his riksha.
Meanwhile O-lan and the boys see people in silks and wagonloads of their possessions leaving the city. Presently the market stalls are bare and the shops shut. With his daughter in his lap, thinking that he must sell her, Wang Lung asks Olan about her life as a slave. She tells him she was beaten every day. And the pretty slaves? Wang Lung, horrified, can still think of no other way to return to his land but to sell the girl. O-lan quickly steals away.
Wang is swept through the gates with the mob. While the mob fights over the richly painted boxes of clothing, bedding, dishes, and household goods, Wang comes upon a fat man, richly dressed, who was too slow to escape.
The man begs for his life, offering money in return. Pearl Buck seems to indicate that only by plundering the rich can the poor escape their hopeless condition. Or will Wang pay a high price in the future for this act? What grows out of this seed money when he returns to his village? He has bought good seed for some luxury crops as well as the basics. In his joy he pays too much for an ox that takes his fancy.
At the house, his farm tools, the door, and the thatch are all gone. The uncle sold his daughter and left with his wife and son, no one knows where. Ching himself, thin as a shadow and barely alive, has nothing left. With O-lan, Wang goes into the town to download furniture and farm tools.
He also downloads a new paper god of wealth to hang on the wall, along with candlesticks, an incense urn, and thick red candles to burn before it. He seems to forget his loyalty to the land and he speaks angrily to the little earth gods in the field.
Later, however, fearful for his new happiness, he decides to win them over and burns some incense to them. In this happy scene, you find in rich detail how Wang Lung restores his house and land, how he repays Ching who shared with him his last few beans, and how he sets up a shrine to give thanks to the god of wealth. His familiar relationships with the small field gods add the kind of comedy that Pearl Buck manages to draw out of her situations without seeming to make fun of her characters.
You may well find enough such comedy to make a study of the humor in this realistic, often harsh and painful story. She asks to keep only two small pearls, and Wang takes the rest. He goes at once to the House of Hwang. The Old Lord himself comes to the gate, shrunken, coughing, his fur-trimmed satin gown dirty and bedraggled.
He alone is left, with the slave woman Cuckoo to look after him. Cuckoo tells Wang that all the servants have fled during the famine but some came back as robbers to plunder the mansion.
The Old Mistress died of the fright they gave her. The young lords want to sell all acres that are left. Wang Lung goes to the town to drink tea with the shopkeeper and hear the news. The man confirms what Cuckoo has told him. Wang Lung goes back to download the land. This picture of the fall of a once great family is dramatic. Like nature, might not families be ruled by cycles of poverty and prosperity?
At this point Wang remembers how even the thought of the Old Lord intimidated him in the past. At harvest time he hires farm laborers and makes Ching his overseer. Wang builds a second house behind the first, leaving the old farmhouse to Ching and the farm workers. He sets himself the goal of laying up enough stores in the good years to survive any future years of drought and flood.
Although he no longer allows O-lan to work in the field, he takes his two sons out with him, hoping to inspire them with his own love of the land. Is this wealth from the earth as you see it? How was Wang able to download all this land? You can make an interesting list of what constitutes prosperity to a typical Chinese farmer like Wang Lung: Wang now has five children, three boys and two girls.
If he had, he realizes now, her owners would have killed her as useless. The author devoted much effort to helping the mentally retarded. In the book, Wang is the only one who cares about the little girl. Wang himself rarely works on the land now, having others to do the work and being busy with the commerce of selling his crops. O-lan has had a hard birth this time, with twins.
Is it possible that she has pushed her self-reliance too far, that having no help with the birth was unwise? Would you agree with those who say her insistence on doing it all by herself was not strength but stubbornness? This time it is a flood, with two-fifths of the land lying under water through the spring and summer.
He puts his hired laborers to work mending roofs, repairing implements, doing tasks he would be doing when field work was not possible. Now he finds himself idle and restless. In the following chapters, you will begin to see how this idleness leads Wang even farther away from his origins and from his early happiness as a farmer, husband, and father. For the first time since he brought her home as a bride, Wang Lung looks at Olan as a woman and sees that she has not cared for her appearance.
When he re- bukes her for this, she confesses that she has not been well since the birth of the twins. The more humbly she answers him, the more ashamed he is at reproaching her and the angrier he becomes that she does not answer him with anger. How do you think she should have answered him? Is there anything she can say or do to change the way he feels toward her now?
Disgusted with her and himself, Wang rushes out to the tea shop. But the old tea shop now seems dingy, and he goes to a new tea shop, which is also a gambling den and brothel. She taunts him for drinking tea when he could drink wine, play at dice, enjoy the pretty women upstairs. They are not dream women, as he thought, but real, and he may choose any one he likes.
The Good Earth Summary & Study Guide Description
A slender one with a pretty face and a lotus bud in her hand attracts him, and he leaves excited but without pursuing his desire. Some readers find it hard to believe that Wang Lung can be so ignorant about prostitution, especially after his experience as a riksha puller in the city. Do you agree with them? Or do you think that what he displays is not ignorance but inexperience in this unfamiliar world of sexual pleasure for sale?
She introduces him to sophisticated lovemaking. Wang Lung now spends his days waiting for his nights with Lotus. No matter how much time he spends with her, he remains unsatisfied. O-lan and his children are silent around him, and his old father asks him what sickness he has that makes him bad-tempered and turns his skin so yellow pale. Wang begins bathing every day with scented soap.
He has the barber cut off the long old-fashioned braid that you saw in Chapter 1 and he uses perfumed oil on his hair. He gives up the farmhouse smell of garlic. He has the town tailor make him fine clothes, and he downloads his first store-bought shoes. He reminds O-lan of the sons of Hwang in the Great House. He is flattered. The comparison with the Hwang family is yet another reminder of what may be in store for him. He is spending money wildly, for his hours with Lotus and for expensive gifts that she coaxes out of him.
Although she has cherished them, she gives them up without a word. When Wang has gone, her tears fall unchecked on his clothes that she is washing. Wang Lung is close to ruining himself in his infatuation with Lotus. O-lan does not protest although he is spending the silver stored in its hiding place. She is afraid of the anger that he turns on her constantly. His demand for the pearls leaves her heartbroken, yet she submits.
One woman who has worn herself out for him is not enough for a man, and if he has money he will download himself a second woman. A concubine in Chinese society was a recognized second wife whose principal function was to serve her master sexually. Concubinage was an ancient custom in China, dating from the time of Confucius about the sixth century B. A concubine lived in her own quarters and had no household duties.
To have a concubine was evidence of wealth and brought a man respect and status in the community. Wang has a cluster of new rooms added to his house, around a courtyard with a goldfish pond.
But he is impatient. He scolds O-lan for not brushing her hair. To his astonishment she bursts into tears, something she has never done before in his presence. Notice that she makes no reference to his cruel behavior.
He is again ashamed of his desire for Lotus. Lotus arrives in a sedan chair and totters on her useless bound feet into her apartment. Cuckoo comes along as her servant. O-lan deals with this situation by staying away with her children the entire day.
At evening she returns, prepares the meal, eats with the children, then washes and goes to bed alone in the room she has shared with Wang Lung these many years. Wang goes to Lotus. O-lan wants to know why she must have this woman in her house. Other annoyances arise. The last straw comes when Wang hears Lotus screaming at his retarded daughter whom the twins have innocently taken to see the mysterious lady.
Lotus now shows the bad temper of which she is capable, calling his children filthy and cursing them. Wang will not tolerate this. He stays away from Lotus for two days. When he returns she does everything to please him, but it seems clear that his infatuation is waning. Meanwhile the floods have receded.
You probably will find some of these scenes comic, although no one who participates in them is amused. O-lan succeeds in getting Cuckoo out of her sight. As you can see, the return to the good earth is the medicine which always restores Wang Lung. He eats heartily, and laughs at Lotus again when she protests at his garlicky breath. In the village he is now a man of importance. The villagers borrow money from Wang and ask his advice in marrying off their children and settling disputes. His eldest son reads contracts for him and even corrects errors in them, while Wang stands by proudly.
But this boy is staying out of school and he weeps when rebuked. O-lan suggests he have a slave woman. Wang will not download his son a slave but decides it is time to find him a wife. Here you see Wang Lung at his best, a mature man in his prime, in control of his household affairs and with the wisdom and authority to advise others.
He has restored his balance and refreshed his spirit by renewing his deep bond with the land. He has put Lotus in her place as a concubine, and restored O-lan to her proper place.
These two women are as sharply contrasted in character as in the roles that society has assigned them. O-lan is serious, responsible, undemanding. She rarely smiles and speaks only when she has something important to say. Lotus is lazy, self-indulgent, peevish when her wishes are not quickly granted, and given to sharp temper when she is crossed. Although both women were sold as slaves in childhood, one becomes a true wife, the other a courtesan. What do you think accounts for the different futures of these two girls?
Do you find this surprising in light of her own slavery and her contempt for Cuckoo, who performed this function for the Old Lord? Cuckoo offers to make the match. Meanwhile, the boy comes home drunk after a night with a prostitute, and Wang Lung orders his uncle, the wife, and their son- who is corrupting his own son- out of his house.
But his uncle slyly shows Wang the false beard he wears as a member of a gang of local bandits, the notorious Redbeards. Wang is trapped. He must keep this uncle and his family in the house as protection against the gang. A natural echo of this unnatural human evil arrives in the form of a plague of locusts, which again drives Wang back to the land.
He organizes his workers and the younger farmers to fight the swarms of locusts.
The Good Earth
They battle for seven days and nights, saving some of the harvest. Although the villagers and O-lan serve the locusts roasted or fried, Wang will not eat these enemies of the land. The fight to save his fields and the return to the land has brought Wang calm. Wang is angry and compares his tall, slim son with fine skin and soft hands to himself, thick-bodied and sunburnt. He roars at his son to work in the fields so as not to be mistaken for a woman.
But O-lan tells Wang indirectly that this son is spending time with Lotus, and she advises that the youth be sent south as he asks. Wang catches his son and Lotus talking together. In a towering rage he beats them both. Lotus pleads with him, assuring him that the boy comes only to talk to her. Wang Lung calms down and gives the boy permission to leave home.
As a youth Wang Lung had to work in the fields or starve. But as the son of a well-to-do farmer, this youth has nothing to do. In this chapter a contrast is again drawn between O-lan and Lotus, this time in terms of what the passing years have done to each. Living a soft life, Lotus has become rounded, less fragile and more beautiful. O-lan is now gaunt and worn, and her abdomen is swollen, apparently with a tumor. This boy has also scorned working in the fields and demands to be sent to school like his brother.
Otherwise he is very unlike the eldest son. Slightly built, crafty, and with a touch of malicious humor, he reminds Wang of his own father. This boy should make a good merchant. Wang apprentices him to the grain merchant Liu, to whose daughter the eldest son is already betrothed. This daughter is a pretty child who walks gracefully on her bound feet, but cries from the pain she has to endure.
A man could circle his two hands around such a narrow waist, which a woman achieved only by wearing tight corsets that squeezed and displaced her internal organs. Understandably, many women suffered injury and illness. Foot-binding, although more crippling, had the same purpose- to please men. According to legend, a favorite court dancer bound her feet to squeeze them into small dancing shoes. The style caught on among the well-to-do. The practice began when a little girl was five or six.
Her feet were bound in cloth to force the toes and heel to curl under, causing the arch and instep to rise unnaturally. Periodically the bindings were tightened. Furthermore, he now realizes that O-lan is ill. He sends her to lie down and goes for the doctor. The doctor, who prescribes a broth of herbs, will charge pieces of silver for a cure. O-lan says that her life is not worth that much, a sum that could download a good piece of land.
Wang protests that he has the money. But the doctor, knowing that the illness is fatal, says he must charge not but pieces of silver for a cure. Wang understands. The silver that can download more land cannot download life; nature, unlike men, cannot be changed by riches the way riches can change men. Meanwhile, the household falls into disorder.
Wang Lung realizes how much work O-lan did without complaint, how much comfort she brought to them all, how competent and caring she was.
O-lan has Cuckoo summoned and she speaks her mind to this woman who once lorded over her. O-lan asks to see her son married before she dies, and Wang Lung sends for him. He is now fully grown, tall and well built, and Wang Lung is proud of him. He is cheerful with his mother although his eyes fill with tears.
Murmuring on her deathbed, O-lan tells us more of her life than she ever did when she was well. You can figure out her age: Considering her hard life as a child slave and then a farm wife, it is perhaps not surprising that she should be no more than forty years old when she dies.
Walking home from the joint burial, he wishes he had not taken those two pearls from O-lan to give to Lotus. Alone where no one sees him, he weeps. Thus, without two of the central figures of his old family, he begins the second half of his life. You are present at two ritual events in this chapter, a wedding and a funeral, and you witness both in detail.
How important is ritual in the novel? What do you think its function is in Chinese society? Farmers once again take their families south as refugees from the famine. Then the son suggests opium to make harmless addicts of these troublesome relatives. He persuades Liu to take his future daughter-in-law in.
He also downloads the opium. The United States picked up and sold the Turkish variety, considered vastly inferior. Although numerous edicts of the Chinese emperors forbidding the opium trade were ignored by both Western and Chinese traders, in Chinese officials demanded that the traders give up their stores of opium or be refused permission to trade altogether. Giving up the opium for the moment, the British later returned in full naval force in what became known as the First Opium War.
The treaty that ended this skirmish in forced the Chinese to make concessions to foreign trade and open up more areas of China to trade. This enlargement of trading concessions to foreign powers continued and became one of the chief issues in the Boxer movement, whose aim was to throw all foreigners out of China.
He is careful to keep it away from his own family and from Lotus. The flood waters recede, and the refugees return and borrow money at high interest rates to rebuild their houses and resume farming. Wang Lung shrewdly insists on the land as security for his loans. He downloads land from those who must sell, and his holdings increase. Some sell their daughters, and Wang Lung downloads five such slaves in one day. Then comes a man offering a small, thin girl of seven, to whom Lotus takes a fancy.
Partly to please Lotus and partly to see the child better fed, he downloads this one as well. He wants his father to move off the farm to the old great house of the Hwangs, leaving behind the parasitical relatives.
At first Wang Lung resists. This old house is his, and the land around it kept them alive through hard times. But then the notion of taking over the mansion of the Hwangs, of whom he was once deathly afraid, appeals to him. The second son specifies the kind of wife he wants: Wang is amazed at this practical son whom he scarcely knows.
Wang finds half the Hwang mansion rented to poor folk, littered and dirty. Guarding the inner courtyards is an old hag, the pock-marked wife of the former gateman.
Wang sits on the raised platform where the Old Mistress sat when she handed over O-lan to him. In a burst of vengeful satisfaction he rents the mansion. Wang Lung still hopes the third son will love the land, but he merely follows his father across the fields, inattentive and silent.
Which of these boys, if any, do you think will bring happiness to Wang Lung? Although Wang, like most parents, has hopes for his sons, he sees that they have their own ideas. Besides the practical reasons, what kind of an example has Wang shown them? The eldest son and his wife with their possessions and servants, and Lotus and Cuckoo with theirs, move into the once Great House.
He remains with his poor fool, his youngest son, and a farm wife to look after them.
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Ching is old now and Wang will not let him work in the fields, nor does he work there himself. Instead he rents out much of his land to tenant farmers, taking half their crop. However, he still takes pleasure in walking around his fields. Wang downloads incense to burn before the goddess of mercy and promises the goddess a new red robe if his grandchild is a boy. Waiting, he is amazed at the fuss in the house, remembering the stoic calmness with which O-lan bore her children.
Lotus, who now has first-wife status, comes with Cuckoo to tell him the child is a boy. Now the pretentious eld- est son, in imitation of a great family, has ancestor tablets a family tree hung on the wall even though the ancestors were only poor farmers.
Ching is dying. Now at last Wang Lung, with his retarded daughter and his youngest son, moves into the mansion in the town. How do you feel when someone preaches one thing and seems to do another? But his eldest son pesters him until he gets rid of the poor people who rent the outer sections and lets him refurnish the entire mansion. Wang Lung, caught between his two sons, promises to put a stop to the spending. The thrifty second son is made steward of the estate, marries his village bride, and moves into the Great House.
At long last the uncle dies, and with him the memories of this troublesome family. A period of five years passes and Wang Lung becomes grandfather to four boys and three girls. With a slave nursemaid for each child and slave servants for each of the families, the mansion is a hive of activity.
The scenes of Wang Lung with two of his sons reveal clearly their fully developed characters. The second son cares not at all for show but only for money and is even stingy in spending for his own wedding. Al- though a good steward, he seems likely to become a harsh landlord to the tenant farmers. But he warns his eldest son that the family must keep its roots in the soil from which its wealth comes. Now that the youngest son has turned his back on farming as his brothers did, is this very likely?
The comparison with the former great house of Hwang leaves little doubt that the new house of Wang will face a similar decline. Suddenly one comes close. A band of soldiers invades the mansion, led by the long absent nogood cousin. In the town the soldiers have broken into every house; when one householder protests, they kill him. Wang Lung and his sons gather the women and children into the innermost court and keep it guarded night and day.
Lotus orders her roughly to obey, but the girl weeps in terror and appeals to Wang Lung, who is touched and decides to spare her. He sends Cuckoo with a more robust woman to the soldier-cousin who leaves the woman pregnant, he says, with a grandson for his opium-drugged mother. Soldiers were a terror to the Chinese countryside in the s, the period in which the later part of the novel is set. Their private armies lived off the people, taking their shelter, food, and women where they pleased and killing any who dared to cross them.
The behavior of the soldiers in the Wang mansion is a fair example, and the arrogant, aggressive soldier-cousin gives a faithful characterization of these men at their worst.
Cuckoo, delivering the substitute woman, observes that the cousin will pluck whatever fruit is nearest. But you may have caught the hint that Pear Blossom has plans and will be heard from again.
The courtyards are cleaned, the garden pools freshened and restocked with goldfish and water lilies, and the flowering trees replanted. The slave woman gives birth to a girl, fortunately for Wang Lung, for as the mother of a son she would have claimed a place in the family. She takes care of the aunt in return for the promise of a husband when the old opium addict dies. Wang Lung keeps the promise and gives the slave to a poor farmer just as the Old Mistress long ago had given O-lan to him.
The wheel of fortune has turned full circle, the Wang family has replaced the Hwangs. The youngest son tells Wang that he wants to join the fighting to free the land of the old system.
He offers the youth a bride, but the boy dreams of glory and adventure. When he expresses some interest in Pear Blossom, however, Wang Lung denounces him angrily. Something about the little slave affects him strongly. He and his son part in bitterness. The frictions that are bound to arise in an extended family are well drawn in this chapter. Usually the quarrels among the women of the household are settled with an iron hand by the number-one wife. But you may wonder how even she would have managed with her haughty first daughter-in-law or her sharp-tongued second one, as well as the bad-tempered Lotus.
Wang does not understand his youngest son any better than he did the other two. This boy is aware of the political changes going on in China, and the revolution he talks of is probably the Communist movement that was already forming in China in the s.
One summer night, sitting alone in his court, he sees her going softly by and calls to her. So Wang Lung finds a new love in his old age. Cuckoo notices this new development, and teases Wang Lung, comparing him to the Old Lord before him. He bribes her to break the news to Lotus and download her whatever presents will keep her quiet. The sons have various reactions.
The eldest son seems envious, and Wang suspects he is thinking of a concubine for himself. The next day he is gone for good. But Pear Blossom refuses and instead promises to look after his daughter herself.
Lotus has grown enormously fat and spends her time with Cuckoo eating, drinking, and gossiping. As for his third son, he is said to have become a high official with the revolutionary forces. With no attachment any longer to the present, Wang moves back into the past, back to the old farmhouse with his retarded daughter, Pear Blossom, and a servant or two. He has chosen his burial place in the family enclosure, and he has his good coffin ready.
Pear Blossom tells him that his eldest son has become an official in the town and has taken a second wife, and that his second son is setting up his own grain market. When these two pay one of their rare visits to their father, he overhears them talking of how they will divide and sell the land.
He cries out that they must not sell the land, that it will be the end of the family. They reassure him that they will not, but they smile at one another over his head. The story of Wang Lung, his family, and his land ends. The wealth came from the land but they mean to sell the land. For Wang Lung himself, death is not feared but comes as a promise of rest, and of the peace that he never achieved, except on the land and briefly at the end with Pear Blossom.
Pearl Buck continued to describe the fortunes of the House of Wang in two sequels: Sons and A House Divided. The three sons become, respectively, a decadent landlord, a shady merchant, and a warlord called Wang the Tiger. When O-lan realizes she is dying, her principal request is A. Charles Dickens B. Chinese novels C. Wang supplies opium to his uncle to A. The eldest son persuades Wang to move into the Hwang mansion because A.
The favor Wang asks of his last mistress, Pear Blossom, is A. Wang works at pulling a riksha in the city because A. What forms of religion does Wang Lung practice and which is the most important to him? Compare the relationships between Wang Lung and his two daughters.
Describe the circumstances in which O-lan kills her baby.
How would you judge her act? The one act that Wang feels guilty about toward O-lan is A. The first sign of the declining fortune of the House of Hwang is the A. The Good Earth is a novel characterized by A. Wang Lung switches from riksha pulling by day to hauling wagons at night because it A.
What is the Chinese family attitude toward elders?Wang adds quarters to the house for Lotus and her servant, the one-time slave Cuckoo. If he had the money he would do it.
But in his own there was even a leg of pork wich he had bought from his neighbour, Ching, when he killed his pig that looked as though it were sickening for a disease. But between all these thoughts which were in his mind every day there ran weaving and interweaving the new thought of what his life now was, and it occurred to him, suddenly, thinking of the night, to wonder if she liked him.
With no woodlands to hold back the run-off of rains, there is also flooding.