The Good Earth | Study Guide

Pearl S. Buck

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The Good Earth | Chapter 24 | Summary

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Summary

Wang Lung's older son, Nung En, asks to go south to university. Wang Lung refuses. Then O-lan tells him Nung En visits the inner courts, and Wang Lung cannot believe it. He pretends to leave and then returns to catch Nung En talking with Lotus. His anger is "the anger of one man against another man who steals away the loved woman." He picks out a slim bamboo reed and beats both Nung En and Lotus. He decides to send Nung En away to keep him from Lotus.

Analysis

While Wang Lung is proud of the scholar Nung En has become, he also laments his son has no connection to the land. "Rub a little good earth on yourself," he commands Nung En, "lest men take you for a woman." This reveals much about Wang Lung's poor view of both women and of being the kind of idle that makes one's hands "soft and fine." Wang Lung is deeply conflicted by the effects of his wealth. He enjoys the pleasures that wealth brings, such as Lotus. But he also understands wealth's corrupting nature, having witnessed the downfall of the House of Hwang. He knows it is too late to expect Nung En to love the land as he does. But he fears that by sending Nung En away from the land, Nung En will become further estranged from its healing influence.

Nung En might have never been allowed to leave had it not been for Wang Lung's jealousy. Because Liu wants to wait to marry his daughter to Nung En, Nung En has turned his lustful attentions toward Wang Lung's property, Lotus. Wang Lung shows his awful temper by beating both Nung En and Lotus to punish them for their behavior.

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