The Good Earth


Chapter 20 to Chapter 22

Chapter Twenty Summary

Wang Lung’s uncle comes to his home. Wang Lung’s uncle’s wife notices Wang Lung’s different appearance and suggests that Wang Lung wants to entertain a woman other than his wife. However, his uncle’s wife is dismissive of this action; she tells O-lan that with wealth comes the opportunity for additional lovers and wives. Feeling that he will have his uncle and his uncle’s wife’s support, Wang Lung asks his uncle’s wife to help him buy Lotus. He admits that he is even willing to sell his land to have the woman. He grows impatient and becomes angry at O-lan for her unkempt hair. Even though she has never cried before, O-lan becomes upset and weeps. Wang Lung feels guilty, for he knows that he cannot complain about O-lan.

Wang Lung purchases Lotus and builds her a fishpond and court. Cuckoo acts as Lotus’ personal servant. Because of her bound feet, Lotus must be carried to the house. She fulfills Wang Lung’s sexual desires, and he fornicates with her every night.

Chapter Twenty-One Summary

O-lan pretends that Lotus does not exist, but she takes out her jealousy and anger on Cuckoo, who had worked with O-lan in the House of Hwang as a slave. Now, O-lan is the first wife, and she refuses to be civil toward Cuckoo. To ease the tension, Wang Lung builds a separate kitchen for Cuckoo and Lotus. When his uncle’s wife becomes friendly with Cuckoo and Lotus, Wang Lung finds himself less attracted to Lotus.

Wang Lung’s father, whose health is waning, further complicates the relationship with Lotus. He constantly refers to her as a harlot, and he often spits on her possessions and generally annoys her. When the twins take their intellectually challenged sister to see Lotus, the sister tries to touch Lotus’ clothes and jewelry. Lotus shrieks, which causes Wang Lung to run to the court. Lotus calls the child an “idiot” and hurls other insults toward Wang Lung’s children. Greatly offended, Wang...

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Essays About The Good Earth