The Good Earth | Study Guide

Pearl S. Buck

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The Good Earth | Chapter 25 | Summary



Wang Lung arranges for Nung Wen to apprentice under Liu to be a merchant. Liu agrees to take on Nung Wen. The two men also agree to marry Wang Lung's younger daughter to Liu's son.

Wang Lung's younger daughter tells him her feet hurt from being bound. She says she endures the pain because if not, her "husband would not love [her] even as [Wang Lung] [does] not love [O-lan]." Wang Lung feels pity for O-lan and tells her to rest when he sees her panting in pain. He calls a doctor, and the doctor gives him the bad news: O-lan has a tumor and will die.


This chapter explores the concept that only the beautiful are worthy of love. In China in this time period small, bound feet were considered beautiful because it meant the girl did not need to work. O-lan's feet are not bound, so she understands Wang Lung cannot and does not love her. O-lan puts her daughter through the pain of binding. She wants her daughter to be loved by her future husband, something she never had herself.

When Wang Lung hears his daughter talking about her mother not being loved, it stabs him. He is sad because "with all her dimness O-lan had seen the truth in him." He starts to pay attention to O-lan for the first time in their life together and does so "with some strange remorse." He tells himself, "It is not my fault if I have not loved her as one loves a concubine, since men do not." This is significant because he justifies not loving her because she is not beautiful. When he learns she will die, it upsets him greatly, and he weeps. His feelings for her may not be love, but she is more meaningful to him than he realized nonetheless.

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