The Good Earth | Study Guide

Pearl S. Buck

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The Good Earth | Chapter 6 | Summary

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Summary

Wang Lung goes to the House of Hwang to buy the land from the Old Lord Hwang's agent. He decides he will save up even more silver and buy more land from them.

O-lan is with child again. Wang Lung is annoyed and rebukes her because she will not be able to work the harvest. When it is time, she gives birth and is back at work in the fields a few hours later. The child is a second son, and they send the first son to sleep with Wang Lung's father. The harvest goes well, and the new land produces twice the earnings of Wang Lung's other land. The villagers are impressed.

Analysis

This chapter starts with narrative summary: "This piece of land which Wang Lung now owned was a thing which greatly changed his life." It changes his life in the short term because it raises his status in town and allows him to care for his growing family. It changes his life in the long term as well. Even after the famine and displacement he later experiences, he has something valuable to come back to, and indeed, to live for.

At first Wang Lung is almost regretful of his purchase. He misses the "shining" silver he had saved so carefully. The small piece of land means a lot to him, but for the House of Hwang it means only a few days of the Old Mistress's opium. But then Wang Lung's "angry determination" is sparked by this "wide difference" that lies between him and the House of Hwang. His small plot of land becomes "a sign and a symbol" of Wang Lung's mission to eventually outshine the House of Hwang.

Wang Lung's anger at O-lan for getting pregnant at an inconvenient time illustrates the lowly status of women. He will not even give her a day off in the fields to rest from childbirth. He acknowledges she brings "him nothing but good fortune," but he is still too much a product of his culture to show her kindness.

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