The Good Earth Essay Research Paper I

The Good Earth Essay, Research Paper I was in a complete daze after reading Pearl S. Buck’s remarkable novel, The Good Earth. It was somewhat hard not to stop what I was doing

The Good Earth Essay, Research Paper

I was in a complete daze after reading Pearl S. Buck’s remarkable novel,

The Good Earth. It was somewhat hard not to stop what I was doing

afterwards and try to put myself in the characters’ shoes and visualize

everything that happened in the book. I was so taken by the plot that I

remember not wanting to put down the book till I knew what happened next

in one of the conflicts in the story. Considering my reaction to it when I first

got the book and my reaction to it now, you would really think it’s ironic.

First of all I wasn’t quite happy when I found out about the reading we had

to do and obviously not looking forward to reading having to squeeze it in

my hectic after school schedule. I remember when I was at the bookstore

and saw how thick of a book it was I thought to myself, “Great…here’s

another long boring book.” But after reading it I eventually proved myself

wrong and found out it was well worth reading it all the way through the

last page. Pearl S. Buck did an outstanding job on the book’s vivid

description of the characters, emphasizing the importance of Wang Lung’s

land, and its sense of dramatic reality.

The way the characters are described in the book you can really

picture in your mind who they are. It’s very important to be able to visualize

them because it helps you get to know them better as characters and have a

better understanding of the book. One vivid description is O-lan’s, Wang

Lung’s wife. “Wang Lung turned to the woman and looked at her for the

first time. She had a square, honest face, a short, broad nose with large

black nostrils, and her mouth was wide as a gash in her face. Her eyes were

small and of a dull black color, and were filled with some sadness that was

not clearly expressed. It was a face that seemed habitually silent and

unspeaking, as though it could not speak if it would.” (p.19) As I was

reading this I got the impression that O-lan would be a faithful wife to

Wang Lung and it turned out I was right. The fact that she wasn’t beautiful

didn’t matter at all. She served her family well. Another meaningful

description is Lotus’, Wang Lung’s first mistress, which has an irony to it if

you compare it to O-lan’s. “If one had told him there were small hands like

these he would not have believed it, hands so small and bones so fine and

fingers so pointed with long nails stained the color of lotus buds, deep and

rosy. And if one had told him that there could be feet like these, little feet

thrust into pink satin shoes no longer than a man’s middle finger, and

swinging childishly over the bed’s edge–if anyone had told him he would

not have believed it.” (p.181) This shows how delicate Lotus is physically

and you would probably think she is decent and kind, but later on in the

book you would find out that her physical description doesn’t fit her

personality at all. She is manipulative and greedy. She also complains all the

time. Comparing her to O-lan shows you that it’s not beauty that counts but

it’s what on the inside that matters to be able to know a good person.

The importance of Wang lung’s land somewhat intrigued me. It’s

hard to imagine such love a man like Wang Lung has for his land. But this

same land was the one that fed them and made them rich. “And his wife, who

had been a slave in the kitchens of that proud family, would be wife to a

man who owned a piece of land that for generations had made the House of

Hwang great.” (p.53) This is an important turning point in Wang Lung’s life

because he finally came with a goal which helped him strive for a better

future for him and his family. “And again the slow smile spread over her

face, the smile that never lightened the dullness of her narrow black eyes,

and after a long time she said, “Last year this time I was slave in that

house.”” (p.53) I was happy for O-lan at that moment because I knew that

her life would get a little better once things worked out with the land they

would buy. The land foreshadows their good fortune which was not hard to

predict. Another moment that shows Wang Lung’s love for his land is when

they were starving and he still wouldn’t sell the land. “They cannot take the

land from me. The labor of my body and the fruit of the fields I have put into

that which cannot be taken away. If I had the silver, they would have taken

it. If I had bought with the silver to store it, they would have taken it all. I

have the land still, and it is mine.” (p.75) This shows his wisdom and

determination because he knows that the land would someday save them

from this tragedy. Even at the end when Wang Lung was old and weak he

wouldn’t let his sons sell the land. “No–no–we will never sell the land–It is

the end of the family–when they begin to sell the land. Out of the land we

came and into it we must go–and if you will hold your land you can live–no

one can rob you of land. If you sell the land, it is the end.” (p.360) On this

passage Wang Lung tries to tell his sons that the land is part of their family

and it shows the strong family ties Wang Lung wants his family to have

because he knows in his heart that the land is everything that will bind their

family together.

The book’s sense of reality is another good part of the novel. It’s

basically about poverty and how they coped with it. Wang Lung and his

family were starving for a while. “If one had asked Wang Lung, “And how

are you fed through the autumn?” he would have answered,”I do not

know–a little food here and there.” (p.71) This particular passage from the

book is somewhat touchy because we know that it really happens in real life

and it made me wonder how I would ever survive if I were in that situation.

“When he would have put the cobs away for fuel, his wife spoke out.

“No–do not waste them in burning. I remember when I was a child in

Shantung when the years like this came, even the cobs we ground and ate. It

is better than grass.” (p.70-71) After reading this I realized how serious the

situation was for them. I felt sorry and shocked at the same time. At one

time they had to kill their ox just because they had nothing else to eat. They

even ate grass and even that didn’t last long. I think the hardship brings the

“spice” to the novel because it makes us ponder about what they would do

to get out of that situation.

If somebody asked me for an interesting book that wouldn’t bore

them, I woud definitely recommed this one. I learned many things by

reading it. It gave me a better understanding of Chinese life and the

fascinating details kept me reading. This book made a lasting impression

and I would never forget it.