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Understanding A Book And Author Essay, Research Paper

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The Good Earth

by: Pearl S. Buck

A book about Chinese culture and life,

?Wang Lung is the central figure in the Good Earth. He is a simple, hard-working Chinese farmer. ” The portrayal of Wang Lung?s character is starkly frank. His strengths and weaknesses are candidly examined and bared before the reader; and while, on the basis of a superficial reading, he might appear to be a one-dimensional figure, he runs the whole gamut of human emotions” (Doyle 35) ” He can be gauche and timid?stubborn and resolute?servile and pusillanimous?tender and gentle?a complete fool?incredibly inconsiderate and unfeeling?snobbish and hard-hearted?idle and restless? dedicated and industrious”. Many sources mention that he is not just a Chinese peasant but a universal one, an example of people who have tilled the earth throughout the ages. Wang Lung is a hard working man with the flaws of any human being. The reader can relate to his strife, hardships and way of life.”


“O-lan is Wang Lung?s wife in the novel. She reveals very little about herself with words but she reveals her thoughts and feelings through her actions. She is a traditional woman who partakes in the traditional role in the home. She is taken for granted by her husband but she still takes pride in her work. O-lan sees her self as sharing in a ?joint enterprise?”

About China Before the Revolution


The main theme of The Good Earth is the earth itself. Though the plot involves the troubles and experiences of a peasant family rising from poverty to riches the deeper meaning of the story emerges, ?the life-sustaining bond of human beings with the land?. Wang?s sole source of stability is the land. He receives the wealth of tradition from it, it provides his family with a place to live, he works on the land with his wife at his side. We see the juxtaposition of silver and land in the story perhaps this is a notion that they are opposing values. The eventual disintegration of Wang?s family and the lack of traditional values in his children and grandchildren stem from the fact that they were wealthy and did not have to bond with the land to survive.


The family is the central unit of Chinese society. Definite rules govern all activity in the Chinese family. A member?s position in the family determines his behavior and even his name. There is a strong respect for the elderly, and everyone must abide by this. The dominance of males is prevalent in the rules of the family. There is a strong tie between the family members of many generations in Chinese families.

About the Author

Pearl S. Buck writes in an almost biblical style. Her work has the image of the ebb and flow of life. ?Her style in The Good Earth is based on the manner of the old Chinese narrative sagas related and written down by storytellers?(Doyle 33). Bucks style reflects a swift stream of inspiration. There is nothing forced about her style her paragraphs flow clearly and easily. The story is told in third-person narrative, but the story is Wang Lung?s. This may be a limiting way of telling a story about a character but it is more effective than first person. Wang is a peasant farmer and limited in vocabulary, therefore, if the story was told from his point of view it would also be limited by this vocabulary. The story is told and events depicted as they relate to Wang Lung. The narrator does not explain aspects of life that Wang Lung would not know. The Good Earth is in the form of a biography. The story is told chronologically from the main characters young manhood to his old age.

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