The Good Earth | Study Guide

Pearl S. Buck

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The Good Earth | Chapter 28 | Summary

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Summary

Wang Lung gives his uncle the opium, and "the silver for this Wang Lung did not begrudge because it bought him peace." Nung En announces Wang Lung will have a grandson. Wang Lung realizes his family needs more help around the house, so he buys six slaves. One of the slaves for Lotus is a pretty young maid named Pear Blossom.

Nung En wants to move the family away from the farm into the former House of Hwang. This move is to protect his wife from Wang Lung's cousin's son's eyes. Wang Lung consults Nung Wen about the idea. Nung Wen approves, for he also wishes to marry. Wang Lung goes to visit the former House of Hwang, now filthy and overrun with peasants. He makes a deal to rent the inner courts with the pock-marked wife of the former gateman.

Analysis

Nung En's plan to neutralize Wang Lung's uncle works well on Wang Lung's uncle and his wife. It does not work on Wang Lung's uncle's son who continues his bad behavior. For Nung En's report, the narrative switches briefly to the close third point of view of Nung En. He accuses the uncle's lustful son of having "his eyes on the slaves." But he stops short of reporting that "even he dares to peep into the inner courts at [Lotus]." The memory of his association with Lotus brings shame and a "sickness in his vitals." This is not because he feels he betrayed his father, however. It is more because Lotus has grown too fat and old and lost her beauty, and so in Nung En's eyes she no longer has any value.

In the next paragraph the narrative returns to the dichotomy of ugly wife versus beautiful concubine. Here Wang Lung accuses Nung En of loving his own wife "with a foolish and overweening love, as though she were a harlot." Wang Lung believes "it is not seemly" for a man to care about his arranged marriage "above all else in the world." Wives are for bearing sons, and concubines are for pleasure and love.

When Wang Lung enters the gates of the fallen House of Hwang, he despises the peasants there. This haughty attitude shows how much his pride has grown since he was there many years ago. He sits on the dais where the Old Mistress Hwang once sneered down at him. Then "some satisfaction he had longed for all his days without knowing it swelled up in his heart." That is when he decides to rent the House of Hwang. He has finally symbolically achieved the goal he set for himself when he purchased his first plot of land from the once great house.

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