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The Good Earth Essay, Research Paper
Pearl S. Buck shows her readers the many faces of Wang Lung in her book, The Good Earth.
Wang Lung is a rice farmer who gains all his wealth through the land. He struggles to move from
poverty to a well respected wealthy man. Wang Lungs character portrays a man’s unselfishness,
determination, and loyalty towards his family and friends.
Wang Lung’s caring and generous nature towards his family and friends make him a well-
liked person. During the drought Wang Lung feeds the family members first and leaves what little
is left for himself. Though it is hard, Wang Lung manages to survive the drought. He feeds the
family small portions of rice which are left over from the season. When the food runs out and the
furniture and equipment are sold, Wang Lung decides to make a harsh decision. He decides to lock
up and move south. There he hopes to find food and money for his family. After a 100 mile train
ride, they end up in the south. Wang Lung is delighted to find rice for only a penny. While Wang
Lung uses the ricksha to make money for rice, the family eats and begins to regain strength. When
all is well, Wang Lung returns home to start his life all over.
Also during the drought Wang Lung spares food and money for his uncle, uncles’s wife
and their son. The uncle is a poor old gambler who would rather gamble his money away than to
spend it on his family. During the drought he shows up in Wang Lung’s fields begging for money.
At first Wang Lung refuses to dish out money to his uncle. After a time of arguementing Wang
Lung finally gives in. He states ” ‘It is cutting my flesh out to give to him and for nothing except
that we are of a blood’ “.(46) Wang Lung is upset that he had to give money to his uncle. Wang
Lung didn’t have to give to his uncle, but by doing so he kept peace with his him.
Wang Lung’s persistence to succeed carries him to a higher level in life. With such an
attitude he is determined to regain his wealth after the drought. On the way home from down
south, Wang Lung used the gold he had taken from the man in the Great House to buy things for
the land. He bought seeds to plant and a new beast to plow the fields. Wang Lung figures this will
give him what he needs to work again in the fields. Wang Lung did all he could to make his land
be a success. By doing so he made money, and money meant more land.
Wang Lung puts all extra money either back into the land or spends it to benefit his
children. If Wang Lung is going to buy new land he wants one of his kids to be literate. He
decides to send two of his boys to school so he will have someone to go with him to the merchants
to sell his goods. Wang lung wants to have a scholar in the family. In addition to sending them to
school he makes sure they are dressed nice and well mannered. The children later grow up to be
smart, kniving men. Though it may not work, Wang Lung tries his best to get the most out of his
No matter what situation Wang Lung is in, he makes sure he stays faithful to his family
members. When O-Lan, his wife, wants to sell the young fool’s life for food and money, Wang
Lung stops her and will hear nothing of it. While O-lan thinks this, Wang Lung says to her he
would rather live down here than have to sell one of his kids. He feels this will not solve the
problem and they will regret it in the long run. Wang Lung was sure his wife didn’t sell the fool,
therefore keeping him loyal to his family.
During the grandfather’s life, Wang Lung makes sure he is fed and looked upon by
someone. Pearl S. Buck states that the old man is “…half blind and almost wholly deaf, and there
was no need of speech with him except to ask to be fed or to be brought a cup of warm tea.”(120).
For this reason, he is in need of someone to be a nurse to him. The old man is not able to live on
his own, therefore Wang Lung is sure that there is always someone there to look after his father.
Pearl S. Buck elucidates the character of Wang Lung in many ways. She gives him a wide
array of personalities that the reader can dictate into a unique man. Through his experiences with
Lotus to his wealthieness as a Great Man, Buck draws a mental picture of it all in the book, The
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