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The Good Earth | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • Wang Lung's marriage day

    Wang Lung takes the slave O-lan to be his bride.

    Chapter 1
  • About a year later

    O-lan bears a son, and the harvest is good enough to save up silver.

    Chapter 3
  • A month later

    Wang Lung and O-lan discover the House of Hwang is in decline.

    Chapter 5
  • The next day

    Wang Lung buys land from the House of Hwang.

    Chapter 6
  • A time later

    O-lan births a daughter, an ill omen.

    Chapter 6
  • A time later

    A drought forces the starving, desperate family to go south.

    Chapter 10
  • A time later

    During an uprising Wang Lung garners gold from looting.

    Chapter 14
  • A time later

    Wang Lung discovers O-lan's hidden jewels and buys more land.

    Chapter 16
  • 7 years later

    A rich Wang Lung takes Lotus as a concubine.

    Chapter 20
  • A year later

    Wang Lung discovers his uncle is a Redbeard and must cater to him.

    Chapter 23
  • 2 years later

    A doctor diagnoses O-lan with a tumor.

    Chapter 25
  • Months later

    Nung En marries and O-lan dies.

    Chapter 26
  • A time later

    Wang Lung gives his uncle opium to bring himself peace.

    Chapter 28
  • A time later

    Wang Lung moves his family to the former House of Hwang.

    Chapter 29
  • A time later

    Wang Lung's uncle's son invades the house with soldiers.

    Chapter 31
  • A time later

    Wang Lung takes Pear Blossom as a concubine.

    Chapter 33
  • A time later

    Wang Lung returns to his farmhouse; his sons discuss selling the land.

    Chapter 34

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Chapter 1 Wang Lung awakens on his wedding day. He decides because it is his special day, he will use his precious water resources... Read More
Chapter 2 Wang Lung enjoys his new married life. O-lan takes not only hot water to his father but also brings him tea. He knows he... Read More
Chapter 3 O-lan refuses help and gives birth to her child in silence and by herself. She only asks for three silver pieces so she ... Read More
Chapter 4 The day after his son is born, Wang Lung goes into town to make his purchases. He also lights incense to appease the ear... Read More
Chapter 5 To celebrate the New Year, O-lan bakes moon cakes. Her skill at it means her cakes rival those eaten by the rich, like t... Read More
Chapter 6 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 mo... Read More
Chapter 7 Wang Lung visits his uncle's house to have a word with his uncle's wife about their daughter. Wang Lung perceives the da... Read More
Chapter 8 A time of drought comes, and the sky refuses to rain. Wang Lung gives up on his wheat fields but continues to haul water... Read More
Chapter 9 The rains still do not come. No one in the family moves much at all as they are all starving and without energy. Ching v... Read More
Chapter 10 Wang Lung and his family close up the house and leave. At first Wang Lung carries his daughter but passes her off when h... Read More
Chapter 11 Wang Lung pays for 100 miles of road south with his silver and gets back a handful of copper pence. He buys food with so... Read More
Chapter 12 Wang Lung gets to know the streets of the city he now lives in, Kiangsu. However, "his road was always ended at a gate."... Read More
Chapter 13 The city is opulent, but Wang Lung lives "in the foundations of poverty upon which it was laid." The poor labor for the ... Read More
Chapter 14 It is springtime, and O-lan and the boys supplement their diet with wildflowers. The swarm of poor around them begins to... Read More
Chapter 15 The gold buys Wang Lung and his family a new start on his land. He buys an ox, seeds, and tools. His neighbor Ching repo... Read More
Chapter 16 Wang Lung discovers O-lan has been hiding a bundle of jewels from him. She found them during the looting in Kiangsu behi... Read More
Chapter 17 After his large investment, Wang Lung has more land than he can plow by himself. He hires Ching and two more laborers to... Read More
Chapter 18 On the seventh year after Wang Lung's return, there is a great flood. Wang Lung is not afraid because his house is on a ... Read More
Chapter 19 Wang Lung is so restless with the high water that he puts on his coat made for feast days and returns to the tea shop. I... Read More
Chapter 20 Wang Lung's uncle returns. He comes to Wang Lung's house and eats his food and sleeps in his father's bed. Seeing Wang L... Read More
Chapter 21 When Wang Lung's lust for Lotus is "somewhat slaked," he sees that O-lan and Cuckoo hate each other. O-lan cries again i... Read More
Chapter 22 Working on his land cures Wang Lung of his lovesickness. He lies down on the land and refuses to take a bath before visi... Read More
Chapter 23 Wang Lung speaks to Lotus about his troubles with his older son, Nung En. She mentions a rich man, Liu, who used to visi... Read More
Chapter 24 Wang Lung's older son, Nung En, asks to go south to university. Wang Lung refuses. Then O-lan tells him Nung En visits t... Read More
Chapter 25 Wang Lung arranges for Nung Wen to apprentice under Liu to be a merchant. Liu agrees to take on Nung Wen. The two men al... Read More
Chapter 26 O-lan does not die quickly. While she lies abed, it becomes quickly apparent how much she did around the house. Wang Lun... Read More
Chapter 27 Ching tells Wang Lung there will be floods, and there are. Many people die, and many people go south. Wang Lung's family... Read More
Chapter 28 Wang Lung gives his uncle the opium, and "the silver for this Wang Lung did not begrudge because it bought him peace." N... Read More
Chapter 29 Wang Lung sends most of his family to live in the House of Hwang. He stays behind with his uncle and his family, Ching a... Read More
Chapter 30 Nung En wants money to decorate the house so it befits a great family. He has the rents raised, and the peasants have to... Read More
Chapter 31 War comes near, and soldiers stream into town. Wang Lung's uncle's son is among the soldiers, and he brings his comrades... Read More
Chapter 32 After the army leaves, Wang Lung repairs the house. The pregnant slave girl gives birth to a girl. Wang Lung arranges a ... Read More
Chapter 33 Wang Lung realizes his attraction to Pear Blossom, despite her not being "over eighteen." He calls to her and lays his h... Read More
Chapter 34 Pear Blossom is a comfort to Wang Lung in his old age. She agrees to take care of Wang Lung's oldest daughter when he di... Read More
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