In The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck conveys how wealth leads to loss of traditional values, loss of self, and loss of morals.
Paragraph 1: Traditional values are lost under the influence of wealth.
- "But he could not because of some shame in him when O-lan was there before him, and his shame made him angry, because when he reasoned it, there was no need for shame and he had done no more than, and man may do who has silver to spare" (202).
- "And everyone knew now that Wang Lung owned this land, and in his village there was talk of making him head" (pg, 58).
- “It is cutting my flesh out to give to him and for nothing except that we are of a blood” (46).
Commentary: Wang Lung treats O-lan horribly, but thinks that it is okay to do that because in his head he believes that anyone with that amount of money should be able to treat everyone however they please. His traditional values are pushed aside when he is turned into a different person due to the amount of money he now has. The next quote shows that the dramatic change in social status causes Wang Lung and his family to gradually disconnect with the land. The land was traditionally something to always put your time and effort into, because it would never let you down. After Wang Lung got what he wanted out of it, he began to care less and less. The third quote is showing how Wang Lung is upset that he had to give money to his uncle. He wasn’t forced to give to his uncle, but he kept the peace with his family by doing so. He had always been a person who was close with his family because of his culture and would never have questioned the thought of giving his uncle money before he was corrupted.
Paragraph 2: Wang Lung also loses himself whilst gaining wealth.
- "Now the anger that arose in Wang Lung's heart was an anger he had not known in al his life before, although as things had prospered with him and as men came to call him rich, he...had grown full of small...