The Good Earth Essay

Danielle Duncan Mrs. Felix English 4 Adv. 10 October 2012 Corrupted by Wealth Pearl S. Buck’s novel The Good Earth, originally published in 1931 by Simon and Schruster and published again in 2009, takes place in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s in China. Wang Lung is a hardworking, traditional Chinese man who married a slave named O-lan. The couple was very poor and they relied heavily on their land because that was all they had. One year, Wang Lung was very successful in his farming, so he became very wealthy.
Wang Lung allows himself to become corrupted by the views of society of the rich, and he begins to treat O-lan more like a slave rather than his wife. Wang Lung has several good harvests and saves enough food and money to overcome the hard times and get his family through the years to come. One day, Wang Lung decides that O-lan is not suitable to be the wife of an opulent land owner such as himself. He comments on how ugly her unbound feet are, and O-lan was extremely hurt by that. …and he saw for the first time that she was a woman whom no man could call other than she was, a dull and common creature…” (Buck 179). Later on, he does regret saying what he said to her because he feels guilty, but Chinese men do not show their emotions. It would have been unlike a traditional Chinese man to feel any sort of repentance towards his wife after insulting her. Not only does Wang Lung belittle O-lan, but he also ends up having a mistress. He starts attending the ostentatious tea house because he felt as if he were too good to go to the old tea house.
At the new tea house, he got to choose one of the beautiful and alluring women on the paintings that were hanging on the walls. He picks out a woman named Lotus. As Cuckoo took Wang Lung upstairs, she said, “And Lotus may have this fellow – he smells of the fields and garlic! ” (192). Wang Lung was highly embarrassed because he cares too much of what society thinks. “This Wang Lung heard, although he disdained to answer, although her words smote him like a dagger thrust because he feared that he looked indeed what he was, a farmer” (192).

Although he was chagrin about the situation, it does not stop him from changing completely. Wang Lung wore a ponytail, but since Lotus thought it was old fashioned, he cut it for her. He also starts spending money abundantly, loses his enthusiasm for farming, purchases many new clothes, and cares heavily about his appearance. Wang Lung wanted to purchase Lotus, but in the meantime, he was distressed and worried. He screams at O-lan for not brushing her hair during this time. She cried, but it caught Wang Lung by surprise because he is not used to ever seeing her cry.
Even during the hardest times of their life together, she did not weep. Not only did Wang Lung purchases Lotus, but he built her her very own house and pond. He also hires Cuckoo as her servant because she servant because Lotus’ feet are bound so she cannot walk a long distance, and later he builds Lotus and Cuckoo their own kitchen. Later in the novel, it is apparent that Wang Lung does not want his son to marry a village woman. “I am not willing that he marry any of the daughters of the village farmers, nor is it meet, seeing that we bear the common name of Wang” (237).
If he was still poor, he most likely would not have cared if his son was married to a village woman. Wang Lung cares too much of what society thinks about him when he becomes rich. Wang Lung was once just a poor farmer in China, until he came into some money. He believed he was better than others, and he displayed that by the way he acted towards certain people, including his wife. Wang Lung treated his wife poorly once he met Lotus. He completely changed. Wang Lung let money and society’s view of the rich corrupt how he once used to be.


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