The Good Earth: Character Traits of Olan

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Writers often reveal character traits of their protagonists through the actions of the characters as the plot develops. The character of Wang Lung, in Pearl Buck's The Good Earth, exemplifies painful naïveté, internal confliction, and strict determination. Wang Lung's naïveté becomes less evident, but still present, throughout the novel. As his naïveté decreases, his confliction towards his family grows. His determination stays relatively constant. He becomes all the more determined when it comes to the land. Wang Lung is definitely a dynamic character in this novel.

Wang Lung begins this novel as a farmer's son. He is promised a slave for a wife and his naïveté becomes evident at this point. Once he acquires Olan as his wife, he does not know what to do with her. "In this light he was suddenly shy when he found himself alone with the woman and he was compelled to remind himself, "There is this woman of mine. The thing is to be done."" Once he begins gaining land and wealth, he continues showing how innocent he is. He starts depending on what other people think of him and would not work in the fields anymore. "But he would not allow Olan to work in the fields for he was no longer a poor man, but a man who can hire his labor done if he would, seeing that never had the land given forth such harvests as it had this year." He does not change much in this aspect as his social standing increases. He chooses to do what other people who have riches do, take on another wife. "I listened and I heard what you said in the courts and you are right. I have need of more than that one and why should I not, seeing that I have land to feed us all?" Wang Lung becomes more conscious but still maintains his innocence his character progresses.

As his popularity increases, Wang Lung's internal confliction does too. He begins seeing Olan as plain and not worthy of the pearls that she owned."Why should that one wear pearls with her skin as black as earth? Pearls are for fair women."...
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