The Good Earth Essay, Research Paper
?It was Wang Lung?s marriage day. At first opening his eyes in the blackness of the curtains of is bed, he could not think why the dawn seemed different from any other.?
?His father had stirred himself, then, and gone to the house of Hwang and asked if there was a slave to spare. ?Not a slave too young, and above all, not a pretty one.? he had said.?
?And collecting himself in great shame Wang Lung looked ahead of him, and upon a dais in the center of the room he saw a very old lady.?
?Are you ready?? asked the lady.
The woman answered slowly as an echo, ?Ready.?
?There is no end to the money spent in this house!?
Wang Lung- Wang Lung is the central character in the The Good Earth. He marries O-Lan a slave. Soon after he gains great wealth and influence in his community. Through out the novel he is devoted to the land that blessed him.
Setting: Rural China
Wang Lung?s father insisted that the women be unattractive because a pretty one was sure to have attracted the young lords in the house, and above all a pretty girl wouldn?t work as hard as an ugly one.
Wang Lung?s father- Wang Lung is his father?s only son. It is Wang Ling?s duty to care for him. He is responsible for supporting his father in his old age. He is a wise man who wants to save every grain of rice. He is a sharp contrast to his younger brother.
Old Mistress Hwang- The old mistress is addicted to opium. She is part of the great House of Hwang. She is the master of O-Lan. Later in the story she dies when bandits attack her home.
O-Lan- O-Lan was sold to the family of Hwang as a slave at the age of ten. After she marries Wang-Lung she achieves a greater position. She is the mother of three sons. She is strong and hard working. She looks to be crucial in Wang Lung?s rise to wealth. Only when she dies does Wang Lung truly appreciates what O-Lan does for him.
Wang Lung?s father complains about the wedding feast, but secretly he is pleased that there will be guests.
?When I return to that house it will be with my son in my arms. I shall have a red coat on him and red flowered trousers and on his head a hat with a small gilded Buddha sewn on the front and on his feet tiger faced shoes. And I will wear new shoes and a new coat of black sateen and I will go into the kitchen where I spent my days and I will go into the great hall where the Old One sits with her opium, and I will show myself and my son to all of them.?
?It is a man child!? He called triumphantly ?You are a grandfather and I am a father.
?Sell their land!?? ?Then indeed they are growing poor. Land is one?s flesh and blood.?
O-Lan?s refusals to have an attendant from the house of Hwang see to her birth shows that she had an unpleasant time there. She is grateful she left. Earlier in the book her husband woke her up. When he taps her on the shoulder she moves her hand to protect herself from a blow. Salve beating was common in the House of Hwang. This visit changes their lives when Wang Lung finds out land is for sale.
In China a first-born son was considered good luck. At the New Year Wang Lung pastes red squares all over his possessions. This is a sign of luck and it also symbolizes happiness and wealth.
This quote symbolizes what land means to Wang Lung. He says that the land is their flesh and blood. Indeed it is, because if not for the land then the great house would be nothing at all. Wang Lung then decides to buy the land that will bring him a great fortune, but only through hard-ships. Soon there will be a small harvest followed by a drought. The buying of this land is followed by the birth of their child. Wang Lung is irritated when O-Lan can no longer work.
Wang Lung?s second son- This son is in sharp contrast with his older brother. He goes to school for a while but would rather become an apprentice for a grain merchant. He is always disagreeing with his brother about money. Their wives also become enemies.
Wang Lung?s first daughter- Wang Lungs second daughter suffers from severe malnutrition since she is born during a year of famine. She becomes
?Now Wang Lung had more land than a man with an ox can plough and harvest, and more harvest than one man can garner. So he built another small room to his house and he bought an ass? and Ching was glad to do it.
?Then Wang Lung stood still and rigid, for he saw a false beard of red hair and a length of red cloth.?
mentally retarded. In his later years Wang Lung becomes attached to her.
After several months of famine the family returns home from the southern cities. Wang Lung has several jewels he managed to steal during a raid of a great house. He decides to buy more land. He purchases more land from a now ravaged and ransacked house of Hwang.
Wang Lung?s uncle- Wang Lung?s uncle is a cunning scoundrel. He is also a thief. Since he is of an older generation Wang Lung must show him respect. When Wang Lung is wealthy is uncle begins to exploit him. Wang Lung is fed up with his uncle and his lazy family and soon tries to force him out. He learns that his uncle is in a gang of thieves, and so his efforts are wasted.
The wife of Wang Lungs uncle- The wife of the uncle reminds me of the matchmaker from fiddler on the roof. She is the village gossip. She is lazy and manipulative. This trait seems to run in the family.
Wang Lung?s Third son and second daughter- These two children are twins. The boy is disappointed with his family and his father?s goals for him and becomes a revolutionary. Wang Lung?s daughter is promised to Liu?s son. Wang Lung fears her virginity so he sends her to live with Liu.
Lotus- After O-Lan Wang Lung becomes obsessed with a village prostitute named Lotus. He finally purchases her as a concubine. His obsession lessens after Lotus insults his first-born daughter. Lotus soon becomes more submissive towards his authority
?But the old man heard only these words, ?sell the land? and he cried out and he could not keep his voice from breaking and trembling with his anger, ?Now evil, idle sons-sell the land?
and eventually grows fat from luxurious foods.
This is one of the last quotes in the book. The son?s talk drives Wang Lung over the ledge. He thinks they are crazy. After all the land brought them all this money. We can see the cycle of the House of Hwang begin over at the end of the story. Maybe it has to do with that house!
The Good Earth