The Good Earth | Study Guide

Pearl S. Buck

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "The Good Earth Study Guide." Course Hero. 11 Dec. 2017. Web. 16 Dec. 2018. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, December 11). The Good Earth Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved December 16, 2018, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "The Good Earth Study Guide." December 11, 2017. Accessed December 16, 2018.


Course Hero, "The Good Earth Study Guide," December 11, 2017, accessed December 16, 2018,

The Good Earth | Chapter 3 | Summary



O-lan refuses help and gives birth to her child in silence and by herself. She only asks for three silver pieces so she may present her son at the great house of Hwang with a "red coat on him." When Wang Lung gives it to her, she reveals it is the first time she has held silver in her hand.

After she gives birth Wang Lung sees her and his son and "his heart rushed out to these two." He plans to go into town to buy her red sugar to drink and to buy eggs to dye red to announce the birth.


O-lan never has much to say; "at most an occasional word dropped unwillingly from her wide mouth." So Wang Lung is shocked at her anger when he mentions the House of Hwang. She will have no assistance from her former place of slavery. She details a plan to bring her son in nice clothes to show off to Old Mistress Hwang. The reader can deduce that O-lan was not treated especially well at the House of Hwang. Her plan is meant to prove to her former masters how well she is doing. This is one of the few times in the novel O-lan shows personality beneath her usually placid features. It illustrates how much pride O-lan takes in her ability to produce a son.

O-lan is incredibly self-sufficient and uncomplaining. She goes straight from a long day in the fields to cooking dinner while in labor and then giving birth alone, making "no sound aloud." She even cleans up before permitting Wang Lung to enter. Wang Lung seems surprised by O-lan's perseverance.

Wang Lung muses how before, giving silver away "had been like taking a piece of his life and giving it to someone carelessly." Giving it to O-lan, however, "was not pain." He saw her vision of making the silver "into something worth even more than itself—clothes upon the body of his son." Wang Lung earns silver by pouring his sweat into the earth. He sees his investment in his family as an investment in the earth that sustains him and them.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The Good Earth? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!