The Good Earth (House of Earth, #1) by Pearl S. BuckThis tells the poignant tale of a Chinese farmer and his family in old agrarian China. The humble Wang Lung glories in the soil he works, nurturing the land as it nurtures him and his family. Nearby, the nobles of the House of Hwang consider themselves above the land and its workers; but they will soon meet their own downfall.
Hard times come upon Wang Lung and his family when flood and drought force them to seek work in the city. The working people riot, breaking into the homes of the rich and forcing them to flee. When Wang Lung shows mercy to one noble and is rewarded, he begins to rise in the world, even as the House of Hwang falls.
The Good Earth Summary
The Good Earth is a family saga centered on the figure of Wang Lung , a simple farmer in the village of Anhwei. He is a poor man who has come to marry a slave, the only wife he can afford, and for this reason he is very aware of his inferior status. The Old Mistress asks that they bring their first-born for her to see. Wang Lung agrees and departs with O-lan , now "his woman. O-lan is plain and simple, though a hard worker. She plans the wedding feast, and Wang Lung and his father are pleasantly surprised by the delicacy of her food.
Buck became famous throughout the world for her moving story of the joys and tragedies of the Chinese peasant farmer Wang Lung and his family.
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Wang Lung is a poor young farmer in rural, turn-of-the-century China. During the time in which the novel takes place, Chinese society is showing signs of modernization while remaining deeply connected to ancient traditions and customs. When Wang Lung reaches a marriageable age, his father approaches the powerful local Hwang family to ask if they have a spare slave who could marry his son. The Hwangs agree to sell Wang a year-old slave named O-lan, who becomes his wife. O-lan and Wang Lung are pleased with each other, although they exchange few words and although Wang is initially disappointed that O-lan does not have bound feet.
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The Good Earth simultaneously manages to be both a classic and not very good. While many early readers hailed her work for its realistic descriptions of life in the Chinese countryside, critics derided The Good Earth as saccharine and simplistic. In , however, American readers flocked back to the novel after Oprah Winfrey selected it as a title for her popular book club. For my inaugural "Re-Reading" column, I decided to return to The Good Earth , the first book I ever read about China, when it was assigned in a world history course during my freshman year of high school. The novel follows the life of Wang Lung, a poor farmer in Anhui province who gradually, through both hard work and unexpected fortune, acquires more land and money than he had ever dreamed of owning. Though Wang Lung gets temporarily caught up in the trappings of wealth taking on a concubine and dressing himself in lavish silk robes , he eventually grows to re-appreciate the simple life of a hard-working farmer. I ventured back into The Good Earth expecting to be underwhelmed.