The Good Earth | Study Guide

Pearl S. Buck

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The Good Earth | Chapter 30 | Summary



Nung En wants money to decorate the house so it befits a great family. He has the rents raised, and the peasants have to move out. Nung Wen is upset by Nung En's overspending and asks Wang Lung to rein it in. Nung En convinces Wang Lung to engage a tutor for his youngest brother.

Nung Wen marries in a comparatively modest feast. He gives the slaves "the least that could be given them," and Cuckoo complains, much to Nung En's embarrassment. This incident puts a further wedge between the older two brothers. Over the next five years Wang Lung has four grandsons and three grand-daughters.

Wang Lung's wicked uncle finally dies and Wang Lung moves his uncle's wife into town. Wang Lung's uncle's wife is so diminished she reminds him of Old Mistress Hwang.


Nung En and Nung Wen have very different views about money. Nung En denies his father's claim they are "country folk." He tells him men in town call them "the great family Wang," and therefore they must "live somewhat suitably to that name." Nung Wen sees "silver for its own sake" and worries about his own inheritance.

Wang Lung tells Nung En, "Even great families are from the land and rooted in the land." He also tells him "roots, if they are to bear fruits, must be kept well in the soil of the land." This is the lesson he has learned from the fall of the House of Hwang. The Hwangs strayed too far from their roots in the earth, and they paid the price. Wang Lung does not want this for his family. They live in town, but Wang Lung still has a connection to his land. His family bears good fruits in the form of healthy grandchildren.

The narrative provides a striking image to illustrate the difference between Nung En's spoiled town wife and Nung Wen's humble village wife. The former is a "cup of jade" while the latter is "an earthen pot." O-lan was also "an earthen pot" compared to Lotus, who also could fit the "cup of jade" description.

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