Book Source: Digital Library of India Item lesforgesdessalles.info: Pearl S. Buck lesforgesdessalles.infope: application/pdf. PDF | Reappropriating Franco Moretti's term 'distant reading', this essay positions American novelist Pearl S. Buck as both the outsider-inside a. That was where Pearl S. Buck spent the first four years of her marriage to the agricultural specialist John Lossing Buck. Life in a remote Chinese village was not.
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Pearl S. Buck had always lived in China except for the time she spent in the United States when she was being educated. She studied at. lesforgesdessalles.info: Pearl lesforgesdessalles.info lesforgesdessalles.infoioned: T lesforgesdessalles.infope: application/pdf lesforgesdessalles.info: English. byBuck, Pearl S; Buck, Pearl S. (Pearl Sydenstricker), Publication date Topics NA. Publisher[London]: Albatross.
Here you see Wang Lung at his best, a mature man in his prime, in control of his household affairs and with the wisdom and authority to advise others. She works beside Wang at hoeing and planting, and yet has his meal on the table when he comes in from his work. He sets himself the goal of laying up enough stores in the good years to survive any future years of drought and flood. The courtyards are cleaned, the garden pools freshened and restocked with goldfish and water lilies, and the flowering trees replanted. If they had something to sell, he tells O-lan, they could go home now. As she predicts, she gives birth in the morning and is back beside him by afternoon, gathering the sheaves. In China, where very little change occurred over a period of centuries, the custom endured.
The daughter of missionaries, Pearl spent the first 18 years of her life in China. She became a Presbyterian missionary and returned to China where she met and married John Lossing Buck, an agricultural economist, in From to , they resided in Nanking and both taught at the Nanjing University. Pearl returned to the U. During the turmoil in China during the 's, the family was uprooted and spent some time in Shanghai and Japan before returning to Nanking.
However, the instability was such that they left China for good in One cannot live to wait for a change to happen, and problems cannot solve themselves but a wise decision with a strong determination can.
Likewise, O-lan, who never fails to surprise us, makes a wise decision to steadfastly refuse to sell the farmlands but household furniture to get some money to travel to the south. The story has provided us many good lessons in our lives. When we were reading it, we were absurd in it so much. We would recommend it to our friends and those who would like to be good parents in order that they can perform their roles better in the family.
Buck III. The Good Earth, published in and written by Pearl S. Buck, consists of two key themes in chapter ten, eleven, and twelve. First and foremost, it depicted hardship. Throughout the chapters, Wang Lung and his family and other villagers suffered from the severe drought that brought about the destruction of farmland and crop cultivation. Farmers had no water to plant their crop, nor did the rain come to soak the land for consecutive seasons.
All the villagers endured so much pain due to the starvation and poverty; therefore, some even killed their own children in order that they themselves could survive for the time being to wait for a miracle to change the situation.
Some even committed crime for the sake of the last survival. Unfortunately, the situation became worse and worse since there was not even a drop of rain pouring down to the surface of the earth during that time. Also, another excruciating hardship which Wang Lung and his family encountered was leaving behind his farmland and house with only two bits of silver from the sale of their household furniture to travel for a very long distance to the Southern side of China with his weak wife, three little children, and his fragile old father, who was barely able to walk on his own without the help of Wang Lung.
Another theme was the pride of being a man. When Wang Lung arrived in the Southern side, he did not favor the concept of begging for money, but he rather believed his own two hands, as a man, to work as a rickshaw puller even though it meant he had to use up much of his energy and perspiration in the strange new world to gain little amount of money. On top of that, his father, the old man, dared not to ask for any money from the passers-by, but he would rather sit in one place or sleep and reflected to his own time as a farmer who would have used his physical advantage to plough the fields and cultivate Group 1 Lecturer: Moreover, when Wang Lung learnt that his youngest son got involved with thievery, he got so mad that he threw the meat away on the ground and later on beat his son for what he had done.
He believed in his own competence to earn money without the involvement of crime. Questionnaire of the Interview: When were you born? Where were you born? Were you a Chinese-Cambodian citizen? Were both Chinese? When did your family or ancestor first leave China to Cambodia?
Was there any hardship in your family when you were young? Which era was it? What were they? How did you solve them? Did you go to school?
What languages did you study? Were your family members poor or rich when you were young? What did your parents do for a living? Did you experience war? What did you do during the war? How did you survive from the war? Were you and your family living together?
Was anybody killed? He puts aside his padded winter suit, now torn and soiled, for a clean one of cotton, and over it goes his one cotton coat saved for feast days. He brushes out and rebraids his queue, the traditional long lock of hair growing from the crown of his head, and he weaves a tasseled black silk cord into the braid. His old father complains: Water for a bath, tea leaves in the bowl of hot water Wang brings him: In the town, Wang has the barber shave his head around the queue but balks at cutting off the queue, as is now the fashion: In the market he buys a little pork, a little beef, and a small fish for his wedding feast.
At the gate of the mansion he stops, faint with nervousness: Back into the town he goes, to gulp tea and noodles in the tea house, dawdling so long that he is asked to pay extra. He jumps up and heads for the great house again. Here the gateman treats him with scorn, demands a tip, and finally ushers him into the presence of the Old Mistress. The tiny, withered old lady summons O-lan. Wang Lung is a farmer. He is young, shy, practically a stranger in his own village where he rarely goes, having no money to spend.
He is intimidated even by the tea house boy, let alone the arrogant gateman, and all but falls on his face before the Old Mistress. Does this introduction to the central character strike you as having a particular blend of comedy and pathos like that of Charlie Chaplin movies? From here on the mood changes, and comedy gives way to deeper levels of sympathy. O-lan appears. The Old Mistress orders O-lan to obey her husband, bear him sons, and bring the first child for her to see.
Then she abruptly dismisses them. This seems to be the entire marriage ceremony for a poor farmer and a slave bride. The first things Wang does for O-lan are to carry her heavy box and buy her a few small, green peaches. To bring good fortune on his marriage and future, he lights two sticks of incense, one for O-lan and one for himself, before the earth god and goddess in the little field shrine.
O-lan puts out her hand and brushes off the ashes so that the incense will burn well. To Wang it seems that O-lan is sharing a significant moment with him. The queue- or pigtail- worn by Chinese men was already being considered old-fashioned when the story of The Good Earth begins around You will see throughout the book that the birth of female children to poor families was considered a disaster. A slave could become a wife, kitchen maid, or prostitute.
In another traditional gesture, Wang burns incense to the little god and goddess of the earth to ask for good fortune. At the farmhouse, O-lan cooks the wedding feast. The guests, all male, arrive, and O-lan declines to appear before them. But she has cooked a fine feast, and Wang is proud of both her modesty and her skill.
Alone with her at last he is shy and nervous but finally exultant at having a sexual partner and a new life with a woman of his own.
Some readers have observed that the first chapters of The Good Earth are beautifully written. Consider how skillfully Chapter 1 sets the scene and introduces all the major characters without once breaking the flow of the narrative.
A particularly touching moment occurs when Wang finds O-lan asleep in the straw beside the ox, like the kitchen slave she had been for ten of her twenty years. He must lead her by the hand into the room she will share with him as his wife. CHAPTER 2 Wang Lung wakes to the brand new luxury of lying in bed while his wife lights the fire, heats the water, and brings him and his father steaming bowls of water. She has pleased him in their first night together, and he would like to know whether he pleases her.
O-lan is afraid, for she has done this on her own. But Wang is pleased- it is a sign that she likes him. In addition, she gathers, without being asked, fuel from the roadside and manure at the crossroads and comes to hoe beside Wang in the field.
In due course she becomes pregnant. One of the reasons that having a son was so crucial for a Chinese family was that it promised one would eventually have the service of a daughterin-law.
By following O-lan through her duties you learn what the life of a peasant woman was like in traditional China, and you learn much about O-lan as well. The way she goes about her work and does what needs to be done without being told indicates that she is happy in her new life. She takes pride in her new household and wants it to run smoothly. Wang Lung would like to know more of her past, but, according to Chinese custom, it would not be proper for a man to show much curiosity about his wife.
You see a strong bond growing between Wang Lung and O-lan. The paragraph describing the two of them working in harmony along the furrows of growing wheat is worth reading with care. It suggests the blend of pain and joy in their joint effort to make the earth productive and also the fatalism of their life close to the soil. Wang is deeply moved- astonishingly, he has helped to create life. Wang offers to have a woman come to help her from the village or perhaps from the Great House.
For the first time O-lan is angry, and words pour from her. She will return to that house only with her son in her arms, the baby in a red coat and flowered trousers and herself in new shoes and a coat of black satin. She has even counted out what money she will need, just three pieces of silver. You may want to consider it a bad omen in light of future events. O-lan does not want a woman to help her. She works beside Wang in the field until her labor pains begin.
He comes in from the field to find that she has put his hot supper on the table, but she endures the birth almost silently behind her closed door. When he hears a baby cry he begs through the door to know if it is a male, and she answers faintly that it is.
Only then is he able to sit down and eat his now cold supper. Tomorrow he will buy red sugar to treat her to a celebratory drink.
He will also fashion red-colored eggs to let all the neighbors know that he has a son. Gifts of money are given in red envelopes, red garments are worn, and food or garnishes are red. This is probably the reason we associate the color with the Chinese. Her anger at his mention of someone from the Great House tells you something- she was treated badly there, surely, and she must hate or mistrust the other women slaves. You are not told. You may well wonder how O-lan could be so sure that her baby would be a boy, when she dreamed of dressing him up to be presented at the Great House.
Another fact of peasant life is revealed in this chapter, and it is a harsh fact indeed. At different times Pearl Buck worked closely with Chinese women. For a time she helped at an institution that took in slave girls who had fled cruel owners. Soon O-lan is working beside Wang again. The harvest is gathered, the threshing must be done, and then the fields need to be plowed and planted again for winter wheat.
The baby sleeps on an old quilt on the ground, and when he wakes O-lan feeds him. Because she has an abundance of milk, the well-fed baby is fat and good-natured. The harvest, too, is plentiful. The little house is crowded with jars of woven reeds brimming with wheat and rice. Wang stores his surplus against winter and high prices. From the rafters hang strings of garlic and onions, and a leg of pork and two chickens that O-lan has salted down for the winter.
The winter rains come, and the winter wheat sprouts. With no farm work to do, the farmers visit one another, drinking tea and gossiping. Wang Lung does little of this, however. Instead, he enjoys quiet hours spent mending farm implements, with O-lan nearby repairing earthen jars and household tools and making clothes and cloth shoes for the family.
When Wang Lung sells his produce he has a good handful of silver pieces above what they need. O-lan digs a hole in the earthen wall of their bedroom, Wang thrusts in the silver, and she closes the hole with a clod of earth.
Some disturbing comments are introduced into this scene of prosperity and contentment. They will be envious or ask to borrow.
He is also afraid to let his neighbors know that he has silver hidden away. Their house is ramshackle, their children are unruly, and the uncle sells his produce at the peak of harvest and at the lowest price for ready cash. You can expect to hear more of this shiftless uncle and his family.
Remember to think about how silver is used to symbolize wealth apart from the land. He hangs strips of red paper with good luck mottoes on the doors and a paper flower over the doorway. His old father cuts out new robes of red paper for the little earth gods. Houses are cleaned thoroughly and ritually rid of evil spirits, elaborate foods are prepared, and gifts are given. In addition, there are firecrackers to chase evil spirits and dances, and rice cakes or steamed bread is eaten.
On the second day Wang Lung, O-lan, and their baby boy, dressed in the new clothes O-lan has made for them, go to the House of Hwang. This time the gate- man treats Wang with respect and offers him tea while he escorts O-lan and the baby to the Old Mistress. O-lan returns looking contented. However, she has seen signs that the House of Hwang is in trouble: To cap this back-stairs gossip, the Old Mistress herself has told O-lan that they will sell some of their good rice land.
The Good Earth contains many marvelous turns of phrase like those of the cook and the Old Mistress. Wang impulsively declares that he will buy the land. O-lan protests that it is too far away.
Why not buy the land which his uncle has to sell? He has farmed it for twenty years and put nothing back into the land. Even Wang Lung is not the same. He is no longer the timid peasant who came to the House of Hwang a year ago to claim his bride.
With this act, Wang Lung will embark on a new course in life, stepping over a threshold that few peasants in any country, let alone China, can ever cross. From a poor subsistence farmer living on the edge of survival, he is about to become a comfortable landowner. Without exchanging a word about it, he and O-lan are both aware that they are working together at this joint enterprise and that they are succeeding. Their contentment with each other shines through their quiet, almost wordless companionship.
You may see a further, more subtle change: O-lan has now achieved equal status, at least privately, with her husband. She still observes the forms, still walks the proper six paces behind him. But now he discusses with her the great new project of buying land. She dares to offer an opposing opinion, and Wang Lung listens and answers her as he would answer an equal. He hastily hides the baby in his coat and talks of their worthless, pockmarked female child.
Taking the cue, O-lan agrees. Consider this reminder of evil spirits and the power of fortune to change things as you read the following chapters. As things change for Wang and O-lan, ask yourself whether it is really fortune fate or something else that destroys their happiness.
Is it nature? Human nature? The times? Could Wang Lung have done anything or not done anything to avoid the next series of events? It may not cheer him to remember that O-lan predicted this. He misses the comfort of having silver hidden in the wall. And he bought the land, not from the Old Lord, who was still sleeping although it was noon, but from the oily agent, thus missing all the glory of dealing with the head of the House of Hwang.
To Wang Lung the difference between him and the Great House seems as high as the city wall and as wide as the moat. Spring comes with rain and wind, and Wang and O-lan toil in the fields from dawn to dark. She is pregnant again and Wang is cross with her. The birth will come at harvest when he will need her help. She says this birth will be nothingonly the first is hard.
As she predicts, she gives birth in the morning and is back beside him by afternoon, gathering the sheaves. It is a boy. Again the harvest is good. All the village now knows that Wang Lung is prospering. Wang Lung is not always a gentle, considerate husband. When he is overworked he can be rough. On this day he has not even stopped at midday to rest and eat because a thunderstorm threatens and the harvest must be cut and bound before the storm.
He sees that O-lan is tired when she comes back to the field after giving birth. But he thinks he has suffered as much this day with his toil as she has with her childbirth. Do you think O-lan carries her courage and independence too far?
Would she get more kindness from Wang Lung if she showed a little weakness? You might think that she could just as well have stayed in the house and rested, instead of venturing out again to help him.
Would you say that Pearl Buck is telling you something further about O-lan? Might she want you to see that O-lan cares as much as Wang about their land, their harvest, and their prosperity, that she is willing, as he is, to work to exhaustion in their joint effort to rise from poverty?
He meets the eldest, a girl of fifteen, her hair uncombed, talking immodestly with men. But her husband has an evil destiny. For him nothing grows but weeds. Then the uncle himself comes to Wang to complain of his bad luck. He scolds Wang for criticizing him and threatens to spread it through the village that Wang has been disrespectful. Meanwhile O-lan has given birth again, to a daughter this time.
Back in his field, Wang sees a flight of crows, an evil omen. You may know people like them, who blame bad luck for all their troubles. You are forewarned that in time this uncle and his family will create even bigger problems for Wang. Meanwhile the omens multiply. A girl is born: Consider the matter of the evil omens.
Do you think Wang may have seen flights of crows on other occasions and never noticed them? This time, however, he has already had the encounter with his uncle, which cost him money, and the birth of a daughter, which in Chinese eyes is a misfortune, so perhaps he is ready to see evil omens everywhere.
Meanwhile O-lan becomes pregnant again so that her milk dries and she is unable to feed her baby girl. With the food stores gone, the ox must be killed to feed the family. The first time, Wang gives him a handful of beans and corn. The second time, he does not dare to share what little is left to feed his own family. The uncle spreads word in the village that his nephew has food and refuses to share. They are about to take his furniture when O-lan intervenes.
If he still had the silver or had bought food with it, the neighbors would have taken it all. Here again the value of land is superior to mere money. You have frequently read in the newspapers and seen on television accounts of drought and starvation in Africa and India. Today prosperous nations contribute to the relief of the starving. When The Good Earth takes place, however, the outside world hardly heard of the periodic famines in China.
In that vast country a drought might strike one region while others had plentiful rain and good harvests. The lack of a strong central government and provincial selfishness provided at least part of the answer.
Wang decides that his family will migrate south. O-lan says to wait only a day and she will have given birth. Ching brings a handful of dried beans to help O-lan through her childbirth.
Wang saves a few beans to feed his starving baby daughter. O-lan gives birth, alone as before, and the newborn, a girl, is dead. Wang takes the body out to bury, but he is too weak to dig a grave in the dry, hardened earth. Would you have counseled her otherwise?
Pearl Buck saw the effects of famine during her childhood in China. She must also have known of the practice of female infanticide among poor women.
A baby girl was considered worthless, only another mouth to feed or at best a slave you could sell later on. Infanticide, the killing of newborn babies, has been known in many parts of the world in both ancient and modern times.
In some cultures it was an accepted custom and not against the law. The Romans, as well as the Spartans of ancient Greece, put unwanted infants in the wilderness to die of exposure or be killed by wild animals. Wang sees his second son crawling, too weak to stand, and is tempted, but then bursts into tears of weakness and anger and refuses.
O-lan backs him up. They will not sell the land, but they will sell the furniture. She accepts the two pieces of silver the men pay her, scarcely the price of one bed. Now, she says, it is time to go. His three youngest children have disappeared; he does not say where. The implication is that the uncle and his wife, like others in the village, have taken to cannibalism. They take only the clothes they wear, except that O-lan gives each of her small sons a bowl and chopsticks, a promise of food to come.
Wang carries his frail little girl until he sees his father stumbling and about to fall. He then gives the child to O-lan and takes his father on his back. They pass the Great House, its gates shut tight and a few famished people huddled there.
Outside the town, Wang and his family join the flood of refugees. When the train comes the crowd pushes them along, clinging together, into the railroad car. Wang pays the fare for the hundred mile trip south with his two pieces of silver, and buys a little food with some of the change.
A man in the train, who has been through this before, advises Wang to save a few coppers for mats to build a shelter. There are public kitchens where the poor can buy cooked rice, as much as one can eat for a penny. They must get the rest of their food by begging. Wang will not beg. Well, then he can wear himself out taxiing the rich in a two-wheeled, hand-pulled riksha. They reach the city, and all turns out as the man on the train said.
O-lan, ever resourceful, remembers from her childhood how to make a hut against a wall where others have built theirs. They eat their rice at the soup kitchen, then go back to their shelter and fall into exhausted sleep. The next morning Wang looks to O-lan to say what should be done.
Again, she remembers. She leads the little boys and the old man out to the street where they will hold out their bowls and call to passersby. When the little boys consider it a game, she spanks them soundly until, with tear-streaked faces, they are fit to beg.
Wang Lung rents a riksha and learns that he must bargain with a customer for a fare. The old man sits by the roadside, dozing and forgetting to beg. After the horror of the starving village, the change of scene is welcome. With Wang and his family you have your first glimpse of a teeming city. Here food is plentiful and people of means provide something for the poor. But some must do it out of a good heart?
To this Wang gets no answer. You might consider whether the family would have survived to this point without her firmness of will and her calm, practical approach to each situation, however strange or shocking. He sleeps with it clutched in his hand and pays for his rice himself the next day. This first day in the city reveals the ironic fate of the working poor.
He smells tempting cooking odors, hears music and the click of dice but never sees what is going on inside buildings. When a street orator calls for revolution against foreigners, Wang is frightened, thinking he and his family are those foreigners. Foreign traders had gradually acquired certain rights to do business in China and during the early nineteenth century had forced the Chinese imperial government to grant them more and more concessions by threat of force.
The Boxers, as they were called in English, gained popularity and strength by intriguing with the Empress Dowager against the Emperor and in outbreaks of violence against Europeans occurred. Pearl Buck herself experienced this threat as a little girl. The rebellion was eventually crushed by the intervention of the Western powers and Japan.
One day Wang Lung has a strange-looking passenger- is this male or female? She pays him double the fare and rebukes him for running himself to death.
He is amazed at the abundance and variety of food in the markets. Surely no one could starve in this city! Yet every dawn, he and his family join a long line of people for their penny bowl of thin rice gruel at the public kitchens. Do you think the desperate condition of farmers is different from this? The author also is commenting on the nature of public welfare. Is it suggested that welfare is a permanent condition in cities or only a stopgap in times of crisis?
What about the moral tone? Wang is worried that his second son is becoming adept at stealing. He tells himself that they must get back to the land. But how? Did Buck sketch herself into this scene, as the film director Alfred Hitchcock always put himself into one of his own scenes? Buck was a tall woman and she may well have worn a long black coat, but she certainly did not speak broken Chinese.
How would you feel, sitting in a carriage pulled by a man so thin he was obviously half-starved? In the slum around their hut, children are born and die with such frequency that even their parents scarcely know how many there have been.
O-lan is pregnant again. With spring in the air, Wang longs for the fields which he should be plowing. If they had something to sell, he tells O-lan, they could go home now. O-lan answers that they have something, their daughter.
A neighbor who works all night pulling heavy supply wagons into the city tells them he has sold two daughters and will sell a third if the child his wife is now carrying turns out to be a girl. Others kill their newborn daughters but he sells his. Wang Lung considers selling his small daughter.
She would be fed and clothed, and he would be able to take the family back to the land. This is one of the ways to survive, when the poor are too poor. Wang has almost de- cided to sell his small daughter. But to you this is a promise. After wondering how Wang and his family can ever escape from this situation, you might now expect some dramatic turn in their story.
One leaflet shows Jesus, another depicts a fat rich man standing over a worker who is skin and bones. Christianity and Communism were two of the alternatives being offered the desperate. Both, you should notice, were systems foreign to China. Wang understands nothing of all this. But one day he sees soldiers dragging away men like himself.
The shopkeeper who hides him explains that the soldiers are capturing the men in preparation for a battle nearby. Wang Lung, to avoid being seized, changes his work to hauling the heavy wagons at night, for half as much as he made with his riksha.
Meanwhile O-lan and the boys see people in silks and wagonloads of their possessions leaving the city. Presently the market stalls are bare and the shops shut.
With his daughter in his lap, thinking that he must sell her, Wang Lung asks Olan about her life as a slave. She tells him she was beaten every day. And the pretty slaves? Wang Lung, horrified, can still think of no other way to return to his land but to sell the girl. O-lan quickly steals away. Wang is swept through the gates with the mob.
While the mob fights over the richly painted boxes of clothing, bedding, dishes, and household goods, Wang comes upon a fat man, richly dressed, who was too slow to escape. The man begs for his life, offering money in return. Pearl Buck seems to indicate that only by plundering the rich can the poor escape their hopeless condition. Or will Wang pay a high price in the future for this act?
What grows out of this seed money when he returns to his village? He has bought good seed for some luxury crops as well as the basics.
In his joy he pays too much for an ox that takes his fancy. At the house, his farm tools, the door, and the thatch are all gone. The uncle sold his daughter and left with his wife and son, no one knows where. Ching himself, thin as a shadow and barely alive, has nothing left.
With O-lan, Wang goes into the town to buy furniture and farm tools. He also buys a new paper god of wealth to hang on the wall, along with candlesticks, an incense urn, and thick red candles to burn before it. He seems to forget his loyalty to the land and he speaks angrily to the little earth gods in the field.
Later, however, fearful for his new happiness, he decides to win them over and burns some incense to them.
In this happy scene, you find in rich detail how Wang Lung restores his house and land, how he repays Ching who shared with him his last few beans, and how he sets up a shrine to give thanks to the god of wealth. His familiar relationships with the small field gods add the kind of comedy that Pearl Buck manages to draw out of her situations without seeming to make fun of her characters. You may well find enough such comedy to make a study of the humor in this realistic, often harsh and painful story.
She asks to keep only two small pearls, and Wang takes the rest. He goes at once to the House of Hwang. The Old Lord himself comes to the gate, shrunken, coughing, his fur-trimmed satin gown dirty and bedraggled. He alone is left, with the slave woman Cuckoo to look after him. Cuckoo tells Wang that all the servants have fled during the famine but some came back as robbers to plunder the mansion.
The Old Mistress died of the fright they gave her. The young lords want to sell all acres that are left. Wang Lung goes to the town to drink tea with the shopkeeper and hear the news. The man confirms what Cuckoo has told him. Wang Lung goes back to buy the land. This picture of the fall of a once great family is dramatic. Like nature, might not families be ruled by cycles of poverty and prosperity?
At this point Wang remembers how even the thought of the Old Lord intimidated him in the past. At harvest time he hires farm laborers and makes Ching his overseer. Wang builds a second house behind the first, leaving the old farmhouse to Ching and the farm workers. He sets himself the goal of laying up enough stores in the good years to survive any future years of drought and flood. Although he no longer allows O-lan to work in the field, he takes his two sons out with him, hoping to inspire them with his own love of the land.
Is this wealth from the earth as you see it? How was Wang able to buy all this land? You can make an interesting list of what constitutes prosperity to a typical Chinese farmer like Wang Lung: Wang now has five children, three boys and two girls. If he had, he realizes now, her owners would have killed her as useless. The author devoted much effort to helping the mentally retarded. In the book, Wang is the only one who cares about the little girl. Wang himself rarely works on the land now, having others to do the work and being busy with the commerce of selling his crops.
O-lan has had a hard birth this time, with twins. Is it possible that she has pushed her self-reliance too far, that having no help with the birth was unwise?
Would you agree with those who say her insistence on doing it all by herself was not strength but stubbornness? This time it is a flood, with two-fifths of the land lying under water through the spring and summer. He puts his hired laborers to work mending roofs, repairing implements, doing tasks he would be doing when field work was not possible. Now he finds himself idle and restless. In the following chapters, you will begin to see how this idleness leads Wang even farther away from his origins and from his early happiness as a farmer, husband, and father.
For the first time since he brought her home as a bride, Wang Lung looks at Olan as a woman and sees that she has not cared for her appearance. When he re- bukes her for this, she confesses that she has not been well since the birth of the twins. The more humbly she answers him, the more ashamed he is at reproaching her and the angrier he becomes that she does not answer him with anger. How do you think she should have answered him? Is there anything she can say or do to change the way he feels toward her now?
Disgusted with her and himself, Wang rushes out to the tea shop.
But the old tea shop now seems dingy, and he goes to a new tea shop, which is also a gambling den and brothel. She taunts him for drinking tea when he could drink wine, play at dice, enjoy the pretty women upstairs. They are not dream women, as he thought, but real, and he may choose any one he likes.
A slender one with a pretty face and a lotus bud in her hand attracts him, and he leaves excited but without pursuing his desire. Some readers find it hard to believe that Wang Lung can be so ignorant about prostitution, especially after his experience as a riksha puller in the city. Do you agree with them? Or do you think that what he displays is not ignorance but inexperience in this unfamiliar world of sexual pleasure for sale?