Essay on The Good Earth: Wang Lung’s Changes and Challenges

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“‘If you sell the land, it is the end.’” (360). There is absolute truth in these words, if one was in rural, turn-of-the-century China. These wise words, quoted by the main character Wang Lung, come from Pearl S. Buck’s enlightening historical fiction, The Good Earth. In the story, Wang Lung, a poor young farmer, marries a slave of the powerful Hwang family, O-lan. Together, they face hardships and triumphs, prosperity and famine, along with the birth of their three sons and two girls (the fifth child died of strangulation). Throughout Wang Lung’s life, he evolves dramatically in response to the many challenges he faces. In particular, his wealth, idea of women, and the earth itself change Wang Lung’s attitude and point of view as he rises …show more content…
Because Wang Lung is prospering and his wealth is growing, he becomes confident of himself and his material possessions. Towards the end, as Wang Lung roams the inner courts of the House of Hwang, he, with “some satisfaction he had longed for all his days . . . smote the table with his hand and said suddenly, ‘This house I will have!’” (296). Wang Lung, an old noble at this point, saw the House of Hwang as a symbol of affluence and power, and, discontented living on his land, he cannot keep from obtaining the symbol of wealth. However, soon after buying the house, Wang Lung realizes he is not happy living in the courts, and soon returns to the land, his true home. In this way, Wang Lung shows himself to have negotiated heavily in the morals he always lived by (austerity and hard work), and reveals the total corruption caused by his wealth, known by his impulse to buy the House of Hwang. Clearly, Wang Lung eventually becomes corrupted by the powerful lasting influence of money and wealth.
In addition to money and wealth influencing Wang Lung, his idea of women change as his status grows in both wealth and power. To illustrate, when Wang Lung and his father discuss of the woman Wang Lung will marry, his father sees revulsion in his face after saying the woman will not be pretty, and says, “‘And what will we do with a pretty woman? We must have a woman who will tend the house and bear children as she works in the fields. A pretty

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