The Good Earth


Plot Summary

Wang Lung lives as a farmer in rural China. Wang Lung is young and poor; juxtaposed with the rural setting, the cities in China are quickly modernizing and industrializing. Still, Wang Lung feels a deep connection with the earth. When Wang Lung is old enough to marry, his father asks the Hwang family if they will give him a slave. She is 20 years old and quite beautiful. However, Wang Lung finds himself disappointed that his future bride does not have bound feet.

Wang Lung and O-lan seem to be a good match. O-lan works just as hard as Wang Lung, and they make quite a profit from their harvest. O-lan’s first pregnancy solidifies the love that Wang Lung feels for his wife, the land, and his future family. O-lan gives birth to a son, which greatly pleases Wang Lung. The Hwangs, however, have been needlessly spending money on opium and women. To help out the family, Wang Lung buys a parcel of their land. O-lan and Wang Lung have another son. Between the profitable harvests and the two sons, Wang Lung’s fortune attracts his uncle. Wang Lung must follow customs and loans his uncle money. The Hwangs continue to lose money, so they sell more land to Wang Lung.

O-lan and Wang Lung have a daughter. Meanwhile, a famine threatens the land. O-lan becomes pregnant again and gives birth to another daughter; however, she strangles the second daughter because there are not enough resources to feed her and keep her alive. Wang Lung, O-lan, and their family travel south for the winter season. O-lan and the offspring learn to beg while Wang Lung operates a rickshaw. The family struggles to survive, and Wang Lung longs to return to his homeland. Wang Lung and O-lan think about selling their daughter as a slave, but they reconsider. Wang Lung, becoming more and more desperate, steals gold coins. The family returns home, where Wang Lung buys an ox and seeds. O-lan managed to steal some jewels while they were in the south, and Wang Lung permits her to keep two pearls. With the rest of the jewels, Wang Lung purchases much of Master Hwang’s parcels of land. O-lan and...

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Essays About The Good Earth