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The Good Earth
Transcript of The Good Earth
Wang Lung is the protagonist, and suffers a lot of internal conflicts throughout the book.
The Good Earth
By Pearl Buck
Throughout the Good Earth, we see a variety of differing themes,all revolving around Chinese Culture.
Importance of Land
The importance of land is one of the strong reoccurring themes of the novel.
It also shows the relationship of land and life.
We see with Wang Lung that his behavior is reflected in the conditions of the land, and just how farm able the land is.
We see this towards the end of the book, when Wang Lang spends time with his children, the flooding of his lands receeds (210-211)
Exposing Mistreatment of Women in China
Through many of the female characters in the story, we see a theme among them, they are all oppressed in some way.
For example, women only had places in the house, as seen on page 214: "So these two women took their place in his house: Lotus for his toy and his pleasure....and O-Lan for his woman of work. " We also see this when O-Lan gives birth to her third child, a girl, saying "It is only slave this time, not worth mentioning." (pg. 65)
Throughout the rising action, we see events testing Wang Lang, especially with the drought.
The drought causes extreme panic and terror in China. The drought leads to a huge famine. The drought became so bad Wang Lung was forced to leave his land. "We will leave this place... we will go south," (pg.79) In the south he comes across many hardships, including rebellious young Chinese men, as well as being forced to beg and steal. However, due to his stealing, he is able to gain enough money to go back to the land. (pg. 137)
He is able to replant, get more food, hire people, and there fore become financially stable.
The climax of the Good Earth is Wang Lung's financial success.
He is able to feed his family and care for his wife and children, as well as do something he loves: care for his land. He was able to improve his house and hire laborers for his farms. (pg. 157) He also able to send his sons to school. (pg 164)
The falling action starts when the flood comes, leaving Wang Lung idle.
Due to his boredom, he gets Lotus and buys her as a concubine. (pg. 192) As his interest in Lotus and age increases, he gets meaner and meaner to O-Lan, who unfortunately dies shortly after the wedding of their eldest son. (pg. 265) Because of O-Lans death, Wang Lung becomes incresingly depressed. His depression only increases, as more and more of his children are married off and his land floods. (pg. 270) In an effort to get rid of his annoying uncle and his wife, he gets them addicted to opium. (pg. 282) He is also able to live in the House of Hwang, leaving his old house to his uncle. (pg. 288-289).
At the end of the novel, Wang Lung is surrounded by family. His sons do not have the same love for the land as Wang Lung does, and plan on selling the land that provided for them for their whole lives.(pg. 357)
The story begins with Wang Lung getting his wife from the House of Hwang
. His wife, O-Lan gives birth to his two sons, and they are able to live moderately comfortable for a while.
The inciting incident is when O-Lan gives birth to the family's first girl
, who is mentally disabled. He calls the birth of his daughter "an evil omen" on page 66.
The major conflict of The Good Earth is Man vs. Himself.
We also see many examples of Man vs. Enviornment, Man vs. Society and Man vs. Man.
Throughout the novel, there is a battle for Wang Lung over being wealthy and his love of traditional Chinese Culture.
During the famine, Wang Lung debate with himself whether or not he should sell his daughter
. Wang Lung knows his family needsthe money for food and to get back to the land, but he also doesn't want to subject his mentally disabled daughter to a life of abuse as O-Lan described.(pg.119,127-129)
There is also conflict of whether or not Wang Lung loves O-Lan.
After his daughter says that Wang Lung doesn't love her mother, Wang Lung is at war with himself if he loves her or not. That conflict only increases when she's on her deathbed and even after O-Lan's death.
Man vs. Environment
In the Good Earth, we see examples of Man vs. Environment when the drought and famine hits
. As we see on page 68, "It was true that all their lives depended on the earth."
Man vs. Society
Throughout the novel, we see signs of rebellion against chinese society and culture.
Young men of China wanted change, as we see on page 115, "And later when they were fully men...the scattered anger of their youth settled into a revolt too deep for mere words."
Man vs. Man
In the novel we see several occurrences of man vs man conflict.
mainly between Wang Lung and his uncle. Mostly the conflicts arise when his uncle makes unannounced random visits only when Wang Lung was wealthy. (pg. 187) They have small fights, but nothing huge.
At first, Wang Lung is humble,
with his small farm and marrying a slave. (pg. 1-24) Over time, his pride increases with his wealth.
He is very passionate and protective of his land
, although when he is wealthy, he is not afraid for his land when it is flooded. (pg. 18)
He is very soft-hearted and merciful.
Even in times of starvation and death, Wang Lung refuses to sell his daughter into slavery. (pg. 127-129) He also makes sure she is cared for by Pear Blossom after his death. The book even states "he was a man so soft hearted that he could not kill and ox." (pg. 137)
Wang Lung has a strong desire for wealth and success
. We see throughout the novel Wang Lung's desire for Lotus and being wealthy. He wants sons for his status in the community.
O-Lan is Wang Lung's wife. She was once a slave. She is a supporting character.
O-Lan is a perfect example of the suffering of women in China
. Not only was she a slave for most of her life, as a wife she is expected to give birth to a boy, which is out of her control. (pg. 35) She is also criticized by Wang Lung when she shows that her feet are not bound. (pg. 169) This shows her
strength and ability to persevere
the hard life of women during this era.
She is selfless and servile.
Apart from being a slave for majority of her life, she does what she is told and is very kind (pg. 27). On page 256, O-Lan claims that "the land is there after me," when Wang Lung says he would sell all the land to save her, and yet she declines to save the land, showing her selflessness.
Her silence hides pain.
O-Lan is very silent and does not speak much unless asked a question. O-Lan was a slave in the House of Hwang for a long time. She does not talk about her experience much with Wang Lung, because of how painful the memories were. We see this on page 133, saying "Everyday I was beaten," and discussing the horrors that "pretty" slaves suffered. We also see this on page 257, when she sleep talked, saying "Do not beat me," and "I know I am ugly and cannot be loved."
I believe O-Lan is an honorable leader. She put her family before her own life, and stood for the values of China, even if they were oppresing women
I don't think Wang Lung qualifies as and honorable leader. He does care for his family, but he let his pride get in the way of that. He acted very selfish when he was wealthy. For example,He took the pearls O-Lan wanted and instead of buying land, he bought a concubine.
The Good Earth is set in pre-revolutionary China, and tells the story of Wang Lung and his wife O-Lan, and their struggle to survive through famine, drought and hardship.
In my opinon, life-long learning and being an honorable leader do not involve oppressing someone for something they can't control, such as race or gender. In China, girls were so mistreated, just because they were born that way. I believe everyone deserves a choice. Women in China were not given that choice.
The importance of land relates to being an honorable leader by recognizing your roots and where you come from. Honorable leaders and life-long learners should always be coutieous of earth, because without it, we would all be doomed.
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