The Good Earth | Study Guide

Pearl S. Buck

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The Good Earth | Chapter 33 | Summary

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Summary

Wang Lung realizes his attraction to Pear Blossom, despite her not being "over eighteen." He calls to her and lays his hand on her. She tells him she likes old men. He brings her to his courts and wonders "at the love of old age, which is so fond and so easily satisfied."

Cuckoo threatens to tell Lotus of Wang Lung's new affair. Wang Lung pays both her and Lotus off to keep the peace. He reveals his relationship to his sons. Nung Wen accepts it without a word. Nung En takes it as a sign he should find a second wife. His third son sees Pear Blossom with his father and is angry. He leaps from the room, and Pear Blossom covers her face from him.

Analysis

Wang Lung is conflicted about his feelings for Pear Blossom, but there is no one he can talk to about his feelings. So he sits alone in agitation. He would like to walk on his land "and feel the good earth under his feet," but he does not because of his pride and fear of judgment. He does not have the earth's healing power to turn to. So he gives in to his temptation and takes Pear Blossom for his own.

Pear Blossom is agreeable to Wang Lung's affections. She desires his protection from "cruel" young men. The third son protests his father's taking of Pear Blossom, even though it is Wang Lung's right as a lord to do so. When the third son looks at her, Pear Blossom shrinks from his anger and takes "her two hands" to cover her face. She does not have this reaction to Wang Lung's older two sons. The third son uses his father's illicit relationship with Pear Blossom to break free of his father's influence and go to war. Thus Wang Lung's indiscretion precipitates the first blow to Wang Lung's legacy because this son never returns; instead he joins the revolution.

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