The Good Earth Quotes by Pearl S. Buck
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon Related Characters: Wang Lung, O-lan, The Old Mistress waste water in foreign parts and sending home woman after woman as they weary of them, and the Old Lord living at home adding a concubine. In the novel, The Good Earth, written by Pearl S. Buck, Wang Lung proves . The Good Earth Type Two Journal—The Good Earth—Wang Lung, Olan, .. Since we lost our perfect relationship with God, and we also gave our authority to Satan . The The Good Earth characters covered include: Wang Lung, O-lan, Wang Lung's Liu - A grain merchant in town and a relative of Wang Lung's by marriage.
Earlier, when living on the streets during the famine, Wang Lung beat his eldest son for stealing some meat, calling the boy a thief. He later has no problem taking jewelry from a rich man who had assumed Wang Lung to be one of the violent looters he was hiding from. Nor does he mind O-lan stealing an even larger bag of jewels. Suspected of Wang Lung's aunt and uncle during a period of famine: They appear much better fed than their neighbors, and some of their children disappear and are never seen again.
The House of Hwang, which is forced to sell most of their properties to Wang Lung. It's All About Me: Wang Lung rarely thinks of anyone but himself. The few times he does he worries about whether he looks good in the eyes of other men, or whether his family makes him look bad to the neighbors.
Wang Lung to variable degrees, particularly his treatment of O-Lan. Many of the characters are none too kind. Wang Lung's uncle and aunt die of an opium addiction.
Invoked because Wang Lung notices their addictions and sends his sons to give them more. Wang Lung's treatment of O-lan after he starts seeing Lotus; particularly when he makes her give him the two pearls she'd humbly asked to keep from the bag of gems she'd originally stolen that made them richand which she'd planned to make into earrings as a wedding gift for their youngest daughter, so he can give them to his mistress Lotus.
Lotus has an almost literal case when she strikes the poor fool for trying to touch her.
Basics of Pearl S. Buck s The Good Earth
Like Father, Like Son: Wang Lung's oldest son takes after him the most. Like Parent, Like Spouse: Wang Lung's oldest son is a lot like him, so when Wang Lung learns of his son's interest in his concubine he finds him a wife who looks just like her. He does this by asking Lotus if she knows of anyone, and she tells him of an old client who stopped seeing her because she looked just like his young daughter.
Wang Lung and Pear Blossom. He loses sexual interest in her quickly, but enjoys her companionship. Cuckoos are birds that lay their eggs in other birds' nests and push the other eggs out in favour of their own.
Cuckoo will do anything for money, and she inserts herself into Wang Lung's household to do so. Lotus flowers are beautiful but grow in dirty, muddy water. Lotus is beautiful on the surface but everything underneath is dirty and disgusting.
Pear blossoms are often used as a symbol of hope and lasting friendship. Pear Blossom becomes Wang Lung's companion who he views with affection rather than lust. Wang Lung realizes that he, in all respects still a peasant despite his great wealth, would look like a servant next to his well-dressed son.
He doesn't like this realization.
The Good Earth Quotes
Wang Lung develops some affection for his mentally handicapped daughter. More Deadly Than the Male: While both Wang Lung's uncle and aunt extort him for money and favors after he becomes wealthy, he soon notes that his uncle usually just asks for simple pleasures and then lets him be, while his aunt keeps making incessant and increasingly unreasonable requests. Wang Lung doesn't realize how cruel and unfair he's been to O-lan all these years until she's on her deathbed, but by then it's far too late to make it up to her.
Nice to the Waiter: When Wang Lung pulls a rickshaw, he gets a generous payment from a foreigner, but he soon realizes that she doesn't know how valuable the payment she gave was. Most characters in the narrative are not named, including all of Wang Lung's relatives and their spouses. The trials and tribulations of the novel's female characters remind readers that pre-revolution China was a scary place to be female. Men had absolute authority over their wives, concubines, and children.
The social acceptability of polygyny and concubinage meant that a wife's status in the home was never secure. The absence of contraception meant that women could expect to bear large numbers of children and suffer reproductive health problems as a result. Girls born to impoverished families could be killed as infants or sold into slavery, where a life of servitude, physical abuse, and sexual violence awaited them.
Middle and upper class girls were subjected to foot binding and child marriage. It's strongly implied in the novel that O-Lan has fallen in love with Wang Lung a rarity in old fashioned arranged marriages, especially in China but Wang Lung mistakes her devotion and obedience as slowness and stupidity, and repays her years of faithful servitude—and her having given birth to several sons, especially a first-born one—by falling in love with another woman, which breaks O-Lan's spirit.
A particularly tragic example, when O-lan is implied to have killed her newborn daughter during the famine. One of the Kids: The poor fool with the twins when they're toddlers, despite nearly being an adolescent at the time, because developmentally she's at the same mental state as them. Wang Lung has ONE moment in his life, when his children sneak into Lotus' room to get a look at her, and she screams and tries to strike them.
Wang Lung openly favors his eldest son, since he's a first-born son who takes after him. His second son doesn't mind since he knows how to manipulate his dad into giving him what he wants anyway, but his third son does mind. It goes without saying that he favors his sons over his daughters.
O-lan is indeed the perfect wife to Wang Lung, but since she is not beautiful Wang Lung can't love her. Invoked by his second son for himself. After Wang Lung finds his eldest son a beautiful wife, he assumes his second son will want the same. The kid replies that he actually wants a girl who's sensible, pretty but not so pretty as to be vain, and from a decent family but not so good a family that she's be haughty or arrogant.
Confused, Wang Lung carries out his requests, and from all appearances his second son's marriage is more stable than any other man's in the family. Wang Lung burying Ching in the family cemetery to honor a lifetime of service, despite his sons' protests.
When the female slave that the family gives Wang Lung's nephew to keep him from assaulting the other girls gives birth to a girl instead of a boy, thus they are not obligated to welcome her into the family, Wang Lung gives her a decent settlement anyway.
Wang Lung is kind to Poor Fool, who is ignored by almost everyone in the household. For example, he takes delight in Poor Fool's love of sticky barley candy. O-Lan, as well as Wang Lung's third son. Wang Lung and his family start the novel as peasant farmers and end as a wealthy family. Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: O-Lan tells Wang Lung that the masters of the house where she served would frequently rape beautiful servant girls. Cuckoo recounts a story in which she hid in an urn while bandits raped and pillaged all around her.
The book strongly implies that Pear Blossom experienced sexual assault at the hands of at least one man in Wang Lung's household. She prefers the elderly Wang Lung to "cruel" young men. Screw This, I'm Outta Here! Wang Lung's third son, after he finds out about his dad's relationship with Pear Blossom, whom the book implies he was in love with. Trying to get Wang Lung's second son to part with money is like trying to get him to part with his fingers.
Wang Lung arrives at Lotus's room in the brothel and piteously declares, "I do not know anything! O-Lan manages to disperse an angry, starving mob who try to steal food from the equally poor and starving Wang Lung household.
His two eldest sons. His eldest son is lusty, passionate, and a notorious spendthrift, while his second son is shrewd, calculating, and a huge miser. So Beautiful, It's a Curse: O-lan repeatedly cites how the beautiful servant girls were raped by their masters if not outright sold into prostitution.
Indeed, this was Lotus's fate. Wang Lung's nephew is no better.
Interspersed with these were two autobiographies, My several Worlds and A Bridge for Passingarticles for popular magazines, and the biographies of her parents, The Exile and The Fighting Angel both Most of Pearl Buck s books take place in Asia, but five were published under the name John Sedges when her rate of production outran her publisher s ability to market her novels.
Millions of people have read, and continue to read, her most famous novel, The Good Earth, in English or one of more than thirty languages including Chinese into which it was translated. It became a Broadway play in and an Academy Award winning movie in starring Paul Muni, a leading actor of the time, playing the role of Wang Lung.
The Good Earth introduced China and its people to America and the world. It is a universal story of life and hope that still touches a world in need of cross-cultural awareness. Born in her grandparents home in Hillsboro, West Virginia inshe was taken to China by her Presbyterian missionary parents, Caroline and Absalom Sydenstricker, when she was only 3 months old.
She soon learned to speak both Chinese and English. Pearl s parents preferred to live among the Chinese rather than in a missionary compound. Thus she grew up in close intimacy with the Chinese people, playing with Chinese children, visiting their homes, listening to their ideas and absorbing their culture. Happy for me that I had such parents, for instead of the narrow and conventional life of the white man in Asia, I lived with the Chinese people and spoke their tongue as I spoke my own.
We learned by example to judge people by character and intelligence rather than by race or sect. She was only eight during the height of the Boxer Rebellion, which endangered the Sydenstricker family and Chinese Christians and foreigners. The family returned to America for a furlough, but the uprising jolted young Pearl into realizing for the first time that she was a foreigner.
All these experiences combined to develop the mind and imagination of an alert, intelligent child who stored and used this material years later in her many novels and short stories.
The character of O-lan in The Good Earth from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
She received a Bachelor s degree in Philosophy in and was invited to teach psychology at the college. After one semester she returned to China to care for her ill mother. In she married John Lossing Buck, an American agricultural missionary. The couple spent their first years together in Nanhsuchou in the farming country of northern Anhwei. Many of the peasant farmers there had never seen a white person. She worked with her husband and was quickly accepted. Ten years later, her experiences with these Chinese farming families found their way to the pages of The Good Earth.
On March 4,Pearl Buck gave birth to her only biological child Carol. Following surgery shortly after Carol s birth, Pearl Buck discovered she could never have another child. She soon became concerned that Carol was not developing normally. At that time nothing was known about the eventual diagnosis of PKU Syndrome phenylketonuriawhich results in progressive mental deterioration if not treated immediately at birth. In the Bucks moved to Nanking, where both joined the university faculty. Ten years earlier the Republic of China had been established when the Manchu Dynasty ended.
Pearl saw little change in Chinese traditional ways when she had first returned to China, but now in the city and the university, she saw the clash of old and new ideas. She wrote numerous articles on the ferment in China, which were published in prominent American magazines.
The Bucks returned to the United States in to attend Cornell University to study for graduate degrees and to seek possible treatment for Carol. Tests confirmed that the condition was incurable. Before returning to China, the couple adopted an American baby girl and named her Janice.
Notes on The Good Earth Themes
In civil war broke out between the nationalist and Communist forces, both seeking control of China. Buck and her family, and other foreigners, were hidden by Chinese friends and evacuated to British and American warships off shore.
One of her manuscripts was lost, but the precious biography of her mother The Exile was saved.
- Notes on The Good Earth Themes
These many tumultuous events, vividly remembered by Pearl Buck, are reflected in The Good Earth and later works. Pearl Buck s first novel East Wind, West Wind was published inbut seeking a publisher was not an easy task. Most publishers felt people would not be interested in reading about China.
The John Day Publishing Company accepted the novel as an investment on her future work. They were more than compensated with the success of her second novel The Good Earthwhen it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in At the same time, she and Richard Walsh, president of the John Day Company had developed a more personal relationship. Pearl divorced John Lossing Buck and married her publisher in They lived at Green Hills Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where they raised a large international family, including their six adopted children and several foster children.
In Pearl Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for her epic portrayal of Chinese peasant life and the biographies of her parents. In addition to her outstanding literary accomplishments, Pearl Buck was a driving force in humanitarian causes.
She was a longtime advocate of cross cultural understanding and racial harmony to achieve world peace. She fought prejudice wherever she found it. In when she became aware of the immense problem of children of mixed race, she set out to save the children of American soldiers and Asian women who were shunned in Asian society. She founded Welcome House adoption Agency, the first such agency to find American homes for children of mixed ancestry.
In she started The Pearl S. Buck Foundation to help these children in their own countries. Both continue today under the name Pearl S. Pearl Buck died on March 6,shortly before her 81 st birthday. Also in China, people were frequently identified by their profession; therefore Wang Lung was often called Wang the farmer.
In The Good Earth many characters are not named, but are identified by their relationships to one another, such as Wang Lung s father and the Uncle s wife.
The central character in the novel, Wang Lung is a struggling Chinese peasant farmer. He is simple and hard-working and has a tender heart, but human flaws. Wang overcomes many obstacles to increase his wealth and become the head of the House of Wang. Wang Lung is not the only one in the village who relies on the power of the Earth God. When the locusts threaten to destroy the crops, women visit the Earth God to pray for the safety of the fields.
Chapter 27 God 8: As Wang Lung expands his fortunes, he becomes increasingly confident and careless. He disregards the power of the Earth God and his lady. When Ching tells him that there will be a flood soon, Wang Lung complains that he has never had any luck from the Earth God and his lady. He is unappreciative of the good fortune that the Earth God has bestowed on him earlier.
When Ching implores him not to speak about the gods that way, Wang Lung dismisses Ching. Chapter 29 God 9: Despite Wang Lung's carelessness, when the birth of his grandchild approaches, he is so desperate and anxious that he pays a visit to the Earth God and his mistress. Instead of imploring, however, he threatens them to give him a grandson.