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Good Earth Book Review

By:   •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,359 Words  •  March 12, 2010  •  910 Views

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Good Earth Book Review

In the critically acclaimed novel The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck depicts the trials and tribulations of Wang Lung, a humble farmer, and his family. The novel begins on the day of Wang Lung's marriage to a woman that he purchases from the great House of Hwang. He is shamed that he has to buy a wife since the richer people always have marriages arranged. His wife, O-Lan, is a very resourceful and hard working woman, making life a lot easier for Wang Lung and his father. One day, O-Lan tells Wang Lung that she is pregnant and months later delivers, to Wang Lung’s delight, a boy. Thanks to O-Lan’s presence in the house, Wang Lung is able to produce a hearty harvest and allows him to store a surplus of silver to use when necessary. Upon returning to the House of Hwang to show off his wife and newborn, Wang Lung decides to purchase more land from the now-dwindling house. Wang Lung’s status in the town grows after his wife has another boy and he has an even better harvest the next year, allowing him to store even more. Unfortunately, Wang Lung’s prosperity does not last. His lazy uncle comes to his house to ask for money for his daughter’s dowry and on the same day O-Lan gives birth to another child, this one a girl. Famine soon strikes the family due to lack of rain and with O-Lan giving birth again, the family is in ruins. The baby mysteriously dies, with bruises on her neck, and Wang Lung does not feel sadness. Wang Lung decides to move the family to a city in the south to raise money. Against his uncle’s wishes, Wang Lung does not sell his land before he leaves, determined to return to his only solace in life, his land. The family finds the conditions in the city to be terrible, living in a makeshift hut on the outskirts of a wealthy house. Wang Lung longs for his land, praying for the day that he can make enough money to return to his property. The turning point of the story occurs when the doors of the wealthy house are opened to the common people, who immediately loot the rich. Wang Lung, caught up in the frenzy, finds a cowering rich man who he threatens with his life if he does not give Wang Lung money. The large amount of gold that he is given allows him to fulfill his dream of returning to his land. The rest of the story deals with Wang Lung’s newfound status as a wealthy landowner when he returns and prospers with his land. He is able to do many things with his acquired funds, such as purchase a lot of land, marry another wife, sending his sons to school to become educated, allowing many people, including his uncle’s family, and his neighbor Ching, to move into their home and work on their land. Thanks to his wealth, Wang Lung becomes disconnected with his land, which he truly longs for. He is wealthy enough to have people take care of his land for him and he spends most of his remaining days wandering around his house (the former Hwang House) tending to the squabbles of his greedy and selfish family, longing to return to the land.

The main theme of this book is the importance of the earth. I learned in class that ownership of land is considered to be the most important goal of a Chinese person’s life. Throughout the book, no matter what the situation, Wang Lung always puts his land in front of all else, including his family. In the beginning, Wang Lung and O-Lan become successful because they both understood that they needed to work hard not for themselves, but for the land. Both worked many long hours each day to be able to tend to their land as they saw fit. O-Lan even worked in the fields up until the day that her children were born, showing such dedication to what they believed. When things started to go bad for his family and they were in need of money, he never resorted to selling his land because that is a sign of the destruction of not only the land itself, but his family. When the family is struggling to survive in the city, the only thing that brings Wang Lung comfort and peace is the thought of eventually returning to his land. He felt different than the other peasants in the city because he knew that he belonged to the land that he owned, not to the money that he made while he was there. His love of his

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