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Theme Analysis Of "The Good Earth" By Pearl S. Buck

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Theme Analysis of "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck

In "The Good Earth", Pearl S. Buck takes you through the life cycle of a farmer who feels an immense dependency for the land. Wang-Lung, the main character, must endure the challenges and struggles against society, the environment, and fatality in order to provide for his family and ensure his rise from poverty to wealth. Within the novel, several themes emerge.

As entailed in the title, the earth is definitely the central theme in the novel. Wang-Lung's ascent from privation to riches, diligent peasant to wealthy landowner, is a direct result of countless hours meticulously tending to the land. Forming their home, feeding their bodies, and making their gods, the earth provides strength, sustenance, and happiness for Wang-Lung and his family. "There was only this perfect sympathy of movement, of turning this earth of theirs over and over into the sun..." (page 22) O-Lan and Wang-Lung work side by side pleasantly every day. Any capital attainment earned is never spent frivolously, but always turned into more land. Wang-Lung and O-Lan would sell their furniture for silver yet would not sell their land even when they were leaving for the south. As the House of Hwang is disconnected from their land, their power deteriorates. Wang-Lung believes the same will happen to his family; for at the end of the novel, he states that if their land is sold, the family will remain no longer. He can depend on little else, save the land that nurtures his livelihood.

The status of women can also be considered a quite prominent theme. Women's inferiority towards men in customary China is used in "The Good Earth" with a definite emotional impression upon its readers. Although women's roles were inconsistent throughout the book, all posts were undeniably servile. There were peasant wives like O-Lan, house-slaves like Cuckoo, prostitutes similar to Lotus Flower, and also aristocratic house wives with servants waiting on her instead. However, in any case her chief function is always to yield sons. Females at all times walk six paces behind men and on no account would ever speak unless previously being spoken to. Also, when O-Lan first appears in the home, Wang-Lung's father pretends to not even notice her. A customary Chinese tradition seeming to only add on to women's suffering was the alteration in the size of their feet to the point of constant pain and the inability to walk. Foot binding was of course not only meant to satisfy men, but also to increase his social status by showing he was wealthy enough to where his courtesan did not have to work. Wang-Lung was disappointed in the fact that O-Lan's feet were not bound, as these were marks of elegance and beauty. "My mother did not bind them, since I was sold so young. But the girls' feet I will bind-the younger girl's feet I will bind." (page 122 )

Another theme is family, as family is and always has been the central unit of Chinese society. This is also the case in Wang-Lung's life, even though his family is second to his land. Very specific rules govern how relationships are ran within a family. The rules are especially restraining in comparison to other cultures; a wife is always below her husband as are children to their father, and everyone else-husbands, wives, and children are respectful to their elders. Wang-Lung gives his father the first share of food before any of the rest of his family. This opposes some wayfaring societies who will leave the elderly and simply let them die if they cannot keep up with the journey. A wife who bears sons is much more appreciated than a wife who bears



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