The Good Earth | Study Guide

Pearl S. Buck

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The Good Earth | Chapter 32 | Summary

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Summary

After the army leaves, Wang Lung repairs the house. The pregnant slave girl gives birth to a girl. Wang Lung arranges a marriage for her with the blubbering laborer who caused Ching's death.

Wang Lung's two elder sons and their wives continue to bicker. His third son declares he wants to be a soldier, but Wang Lung dismisses the idea as a disgrace to the family. He suggests arranging a marriage for this son or letting him have a slave. His son is disgusted, saying the only fair slave is Pear Blossom. Wang Lung becomes jealous and demands his son "keep off the slaves."

Analysis

This chapter provides another illustration about the poor treatment of women during this period in China, with the slave girl giving birth to a girl. A girl merits no special treatment. But if the child had been a boy, Wang Lung would have had to give the slave a place in his family. Wang Lung shows honor by rewarding her "sacrifice" with an arranged marriage to the blubbering laborer. For the first time in "half a lifetime," this makes him think of O-lan.

The blubbering laborer comes for the slave. Then it seems to Wang Lung "that now his life was rounded off and he had done all that he said ... and more." Wang Lung has come full circle, and he wishes now only to have his peace.

Of course peace is not so easily won, and Wang Lung has troubles with his children. His third son is especially troublesome, declaring his "wish for glory" and fervor for wars. He explains to his father, "There is to be a revolution ... and our land is to be free!" This is the rhetoric he has acquired from the (most likely) Communist soldiers who had stayed in Wang Lung's house. The Communist Party started in 1921, and this scene most likely takes place in the late 1920s. The Communists would not officially take over in China until 1949, long after Buck wrote and published The Good Earth.

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