Analysis of the Good Earth

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Topics: The Good Earth
Filthy Rich “When the rich are too rich there are ways, and when the poor are too poor there are ways” (Buck, 118). Pearl Buck, in her novel The Good Earth, shows how wealth can corrupt a man if there is too much of it. The fatal flaw for the main character, Wang Lung, was held in his wants and desires that became accessible by being rich. Pearl Buck showed in her work how wealth can corrupt a family’s work ethic, morality, and traditional values. “He was more idle than he had ever been in his life and being idle and full of good food he grew impatient when he had slept all he could sleep and done all there was to be done” (166). With so much wealth, a man can pay someone else to do his work. Some people can naturally be lazy and end up being so idle that when they do not have anyone to help them, they are lost. This demonstrates how riches can bring someone to idleness and destroy one’s work ethic. “‘If you have the silver that other men have, you may do as they do’” (178). When people have their own money, worldly desires are available and some people fall into their temptation. Money gave an opportunity for Wang Lung to get what he wanted, which eventually corrupted his morals. Being wealthy and able to provide for wants can corrupt someone’s morals if it is not carefully controlled. “‘Well, and I suppose that means you do not want to work on the land and I shall not have a son on my own land, and I with sons and to spare.’ This he said with bitterness, but the boy said nothing” (313). Wang Lung’s sons, being brought up as spoiled, did not want to carry on their father’s great values. Wang Lung valued his lands and also his gods over the land. His sons, not knowing the importance of the land and the significance of their earth gods, did not want to work as slaves and country people did. Traditional values can be forgotten by the results of wealthy living. Pearl Buck showed in her work how wealth can corrupt a family’s work ethic, morality, and


Cited: Buck, Pearl. The Good Earth. Washington Square Press, New York, 1958.

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