The Good Earth | Study Guide

Pearl S. Buck

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The Good Earth | Chapter 29 | Summary

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Summary

Wang Lung sends most of his family to live in the House of Hwang. He stays behind with his uncle and his family, Ching and the laborers, as well as his "poor fool" and his youngest son.

Ching finds a buxom maid for Nung Wen to marry. Wang Lung instructs Ching to rent out some of his outer fields to other farmers. Wang Lung's uncle's son announces he is heading off to fight in a war to the north. Nung En's wife has a son, but Nung En demands a wet nurse for her. During the feast to celebrate the birth, Wang Lung receives word that Ching is dying. He tells Ching he will buy him a worthy coffin and cries over his friend's body. He buries Ching near O-lan and his father and then finally moves into town.

Analysis

The coming of his grandson brings Wang Lung mixed feelings. Wang Lung's "heart swelled within him so that nothing was too good for his money to buy." He begins to eat delicacies as befits someone living in a great house with a grandson on the way. Cuckoo compares him to the Old Lord Hwang, and he is "pleased." This a callback to the way O-lan once compared him to a lord. Although O-lan was not complimenting him, Cuckoo is in a good mood because she gets to share in the largesse.

He is also anxious, so much so he pays a priest silver to give incense to the goddess of mercy. He is worried the child might be a girl and thus a bad omen for his family. He promises to pay for a new red robe if the child is a boy.

The birth makes him sad as well. He remembers how O-lan birthed Nung En by herself. He also remembers how her "white rich milk ran out of her breast and spilled upon the ground." He compares this self-sufficiency to Pomegranate Flower's need for slaves to help her, especially to nurse her own child.

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