The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

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In the novel, The Good Earth, written by Pearl S. Buck, Wang Lung proves himself to be a successful person. Wang Lung starts out as a poor peasant, but overcomes starvation, droughts, and bandit tribes to prosper and become wealthy enough to live in the former great House of Hwang. Wang Lung achieved fame from everyone around him. At the beginning of the novel, Wang Lung wasn't well-known. Everyone thought of him as a poor, naive farmer. By the time Wang Lung achieved his goal of becoming wealthy and owning an abundance of land, everyone knew who he was. Poor refugees, with great respect toward Wang Lung, returning from the south would come to borrow money at high interest from Wang Lung to buy seed. He is a kind and gentle master to his servants, and men come to him when they must sell their daughters. His judgment is respected, and people ask him for advice. Wang Lung is a good, well-known, and honest man.

Wang Lung gained an abundance of wealth by working hard. Wang Lung begins the novel as a poor, simple, young farmer who married a slave, and ends it as a wealthy, honorable man with enough money and power to own mistresses. He was so poor, on his wedding day, while Wang Lung washed himself, his father was complaining at the waste of so much water. Even a bowl of tea was a luxury for a poor farmer. After two years of good harvests, Wang Lung earns enough silver to spare to buy more land. When Wang Lung buys a piece of land from the Hwangs, it proves that he is growing richer. Then the drought hits and the family moves south. O-lan and the two boys have to earn money by begging. Wang Lung finds a job pulling a rickshaw, and, with effort, he is able to earn enough money to feed his family. The difficult months in the south strengthen Wang Lung's love of the land and of hard work. He doesn't like the idea of begging; he prefers the backbreaking labor of pulling a rickshaw around the city. When his sons begin to steal, he is more determined than ever to return to his land and earn an honest living. When Wang Lung gets enough gold to move back to the farm, he buys more animals and builds new rooms for his house.

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He purchases Ching's land and invites him to live with the family and work for them. The land is so abundant, Wang Lung must hire more workers, and he puts Ching in charge of them. His laborers take care of everything that needs to be done. Wang Lung is blessed with a number of good harvests. He is able to store enough food and money to take care of the family during bad harvest years. He lives a life of success, he builds a new house, and he had enough money to send his two eldest sons to school. At school, the boys are called "Nung En" and "Nung Wen." Nung means "one whose wealth is from the earth." At the end of the novel, Wang Lung's son suggests to rent the House of Hwang. Wang Lung agrees, and although he did not even know he wanted it, Wang Lung is deeply satisfied to live in the house. For him, it always symbolized wealth and success.
Wang Lung continues to adjust to the lifestyle of the rich. He purchases new clothing for his family and slaves, he sleeps late, and he takes a liking to expensive foods, as the Hwangs once did. At last, he achieved his goal of accumulating a great fortune, his wealth surpasses or at least equals what the Hwangs once had.
Wang Lung attained a high social status. When Wang Lung visited the great House of Hwang for the first time, the mean, vulgar gate man forced Wang Lung to pay him silver before he will allow him inside the gate. Although the gate man was a servant, he had no respect toward Wang Lung and felt he was of a higher status than Wang Lung. While the Hwangs pursued women and drugs, making their fortune slide, the hardworking Wang Lung continues to thrive. When Wang Lung returns again with O-lan and their new son, the gatekeeper is impressed with Wang Lung's new suit and invites him in for a cup of tea. Wang Lung was originally awed by the great house. On the second visit, he does not drink the tea brought to him by the gate man's wife, as if the tea was not good enough for him. In China, being parents of healthy sons, improves social status because they can depend on her sons to support them when they're old. When Wang Lung's eldest son starts to skip school and become more interested in women, O-lan compared him to a young lord. O-lan tells him that their son is not like them, since he was never forced to work, he had time to feel sorry for himself. Wang Lung is secretly pleased at the idea that his son is as spoiled as a lord and decides that it is time to find a wife for him. They also set up tablets, when they move to the great House of Hwang, of their ancestors to worship during feast days, as other great families do. Wang Lung achieved a high social status with hard work and love for his land.
In conclusion, despite the many disasters of the book—famine, drought, and flood; Wang Lung prospers as a successful man.
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