September 1st, 2010
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The relationship between O-lan and Wang Lung is stabilized by O-lan’s hard work and resourcefulness, based largely upon a woman’s inferiority, and threatened by superficial tendencies. Their affiliation also ends romantically with the loss of love and is regretted, in the end, with sufficient sympathy. O-lan proves to be beneficial through means of outdoor labor. “In the afternoon she took a hoe and a basket and these upon her shoulder she went to the main road leading into the city where mules and donkeys and horses carried burdens to and fro, and there she picked the droppings from the animals and carried it home and piled the manure in the dooryard for fertilizer for the fields” (Buck 29). O-lan also proves her helpfulness by performing household chores, to much of Wang Lung’s appreciation. “And she took their ragged clothes and with thread herself spun on a bamboo spindle from a wad of cotton she mended and contrived to cover the rents in their winter clothes” (Buck 29). Although this is true, Wang Lung’s gratitude towards O-lan appears repressed as he constantly hides his feelings for her in the beginning. The protagonist immediately becomes mortified by his affection for O-lan. “And then he was ashamed of his own curiosity and of his interest in her” (Buck 30). Wang Lung subsequently attempts to dissuade these thoughts. O-lan’s aid and usefulness obviously weakens the tension between both spouses and creates a more mutual, stable life at home. Arguments are rarely heard amongst the lips of either husband or wife. This may be due to O-lan’s unusual quietness. “But she never talked, this woman, except for the brief necessities of life” (Buck 30). This silence almost utterly terminates all heated conversations. However, it also enhances her appearance as a slave and overall working image. “But in the day her...
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