The Good Earth Essay Research Paper Peter

The Good Earth Essay, Research Paper

Peter Cao 5/17/000

Period 8 H.R.10

The Good Earth

The Good Earth, a book written by an American author; but is about the life of an

ordinary Chinese farmer during the early 1900s. Is an extremely well-written novel. The

many realistic details the author Pearl S. Buck used, to bring about the daily hardships of

the main character are quite fascinating. And its very rare that a foreign writer can know

so much about China. Also the fact that Pearl S. Buck chose to write about the life of a

common farmer is quite interesting, because in the Chinese society farmers are great

contributors; however, at most times is regarded as the lower class of the Chinese social


Foremost, the Good Earth begins with Wang Lung going to the Great House of

Hwang (P.49) to bring home the wife that was betrothed to him by his father. From that

moment on the wife, O-lan completely changed the rest of Wang lung s life. Not only

that O-lan was diligent and street-smart, she also helped Wang Lung gain the very wealth

that will turn him away from her.

Wang Lung lived with his father, wife, and five children, one whom is mentally

retarded. Although Wang Lung supplied all the physical needs for his family and kept all

the family traditions. Just like the ancestors which inherited the land before him, Wang

Lung worked the earth that provided food, prosperity, and all he ever need. However, the

earth also brought him sorrow through natural disasters, but the earth remained his sole

source of inner-peace.

Wang Lung was a caring and compassionate man with a strong sense of family

and adaptation to simple life. For example, Wang Lung showed extreme respect and

appreciation for his wife in a time when women were considered to be no more then

slaves. In the early chapters of the novel when Wang Lung was poor, he gave O-lan four

silver pieces so she may return to the House of Hwang in grand style. He also offered to

pay five thousand silver pieces for her recovery after he discovered she had a “fire in her

vitals”(P.170). He then spent the rest of her days by her death bed and bought her the best

quality coffin.

Furthermore, Wang Lung had a special relationship with his first daughter, Poor

Fool, his mentally retarded offspring. Poor Fool did not speak and did nothing more then

twiddle a piece of cloth in the sun. Although Wang Lung had servants and slaves, he

personally took care of his daughter after O-lan died. He also yelled at his love Lotus

when she called Poor Fool an idiot Now I will not hear my children cursed, no and not

by anyone…For he was most angry of all that Lotus dared to curse this child of his and

call her idiot, and a load of fresh pain for the girl fell upon his heart, so that for a day and

two days he would not go near Lotus, but he played with the children and he went into

the town and he bought a circle of barley candy for his poor fool and he comforted

himself with her baby pleasure in the sweet sticky stuff. (P. 212) His love for Poor Fool

was immeasurable and he was comforted when she was happy; “Well, and that poor fool

of mine brings me more comfort then all the others put together” (P. 234).

Wang Lung’s caring nature was the foundation for a stable family. Although it

was rarely displayed, Wang Lung’s heartlessness and sheer cruelty deeply scarred the

most beloved members in his family. For instance, Wang Lung’s infatuation with Lotus

temporarily blinds his true love for O-lan. Instead of the caring husband O-lan grew to

love he was mean and he assaulted her with insults about her lack of beauty and

highlighted her extremely large features: He saw for the first time that her hair was rough

and brown and uncoiled and that her face was flat and coarse-skinned, and her features

too large altogether and without any sort of beauty or light. Her eyebrows were scattered

and her hairs too few, and her lips too wide and her hands and feet were large and

spreading…I would have my wife look less like a hind. And those feet of yours-.(169,

170).This continuous battery of insults convinced O-lan that they lost the love they once

shared. Furthermore, Wang Lung confiscated the two pearls O-lan saved from the south.

O-lan wanted to have the pearls set in earrings to give their youngest daughter on her

wedding day, but Wang Lung did not agree: Why should that one wear have need of


Although he learned the pearls would be for his daughters wedding day, he

decided to give them as gifts to his mistress. Furthermore, he lashes his eldest son and his

mistress with a bamboo stick, because he saw them conversing by the pool and

immediately assumed they were having an affair. He said to Lotus “So must you ever be a

whore and go a-whoring around after my own sons!”(P.247). Wang Lung then send his

oldest son to the south for two years the next day. Wang Lung’s jealous and

condescending behavior hurts his loved ones the most.

. Therefore, not only The Good Earth can be praised for its realism, the

demonstration of life-like human weakness through Wang Lung is also quite intriguing.

Also, as mentioned above the fact that an American author, Pearl S. Buck can write so

well about Chinese culture is extremely fascinating.


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