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'The Good Earth' Pearl S. Buck
1., story Pearl S. Buck 'Good Earth'
2., author Pearl Buck was born in the United States, but was taken to China at an early age by her parents, whose life-work was to preach the Christian religion there.
At first they lived in Chinkiang, on the river Yangtse Kiang.
By the time she went to boarding school in Shanghai, Pearl felt herself to be one of the Chinese.
At the age of seventeen she felt for Europe, and then she completed her education at college in America.
In 1917 she married Dr. Lossing Buck, whose work took them to North China for five years, and then to Nanking. In Nanking Pearl taught English literature in different universities.
In 1928 her first book 'East Wind, West Wind' appeared.
Then in 1931 came 'The Good Earth'.
The book was an immediate success.
Besides writing her many books and translating from the Chinese, Pearl Buck has
worked for the better understanding by the West of the Chinese people whom she knows so well. This work earned her a Nobel Peace Prize in 1938.
The story is devided into thirteen chapters.
Wang Lung, a poor farmer, lives together with his father in a little earthen house which has three rooms and a kitchen. They grow wheat and have an ox. Wang has to look after his father who has a bad cough. He has to cook water every morning and sometimes if the harvest was good he can put some tea leaves into the water. It is the time when Wang should get married. He has to go into town where he can collect his woman he will marry. She is a slave who lives in a big house since her tenth birthday. She came from the North of China with her family. In a year of shortage her parents sold her to the house of Hwang. Her name is O-Lan. She isn´t pretty because Wang´s father says that a wife hasn´t to be pretty; she only has to cook, work and to bear children. In the next month it seems to Wang that he only watches his woman but he works as hard as he always has worked. He walks to the fields and cultivates the rows of grain, and he ploughs the western fields for garlic and onions. But the work is pleasant because at noon when he goes home food is ready and all the housework is done too.
O-Lan does all the work without a word but she doesn´t seem to be happy. She always has a fearful look in her eyes.O-Lan seems to Wang only to be a serving maid. One day when Wang works out in the fields like every other day O-Lan comes and helps him. They work there for hours without saying a word. When the sun goes down O-Lan says that she will bear a child. She is working in the field when she notices that she soon will bear the child. She goes into the kitchen where she prepares the meal and then she goes into her room and bears a son. O-Lan and Wang go to Hwang´s house to show them their first son. From an other slave of the house O-Lan hears that the family is getting poorer and poorer from year to year. They want to sell a part of their land. Wang buys the piece of land. Now he has two fields to cultivate but he has more money and more to eat because in the mean time he has got an other son and a daughter. But the birth of the daughter seems to Wang to be an evil sign. And so it should be. The rain holds back and the sun shines more bright every day. A year of hunger comes over the land. After they have sold all their furniture they start to go to the south. When they arrive the town full of hunger , near to death they meet many other people who are going to the south too but by a fire carriage. For some money Wang rides with his family on this carte too and for the rest of the money he buys four small loaves of bread and some rice. From some mats he has bought O-Lan makes a shelter. During the days Wang works for some money while the rest of his family has to begg for money. In the town they hear strange things about a revolution against the rich ones. Wang only wants to go back to his land but he hasn´t enough money. The only way for him is to sell his daughter. But it shouldn´t come to it because one night the enemy comes and all the common people assault the wall which is built around the houses of the rich people. They force their ways into the houses and take all the furniture, food, money and other things with them. Wang finds one man who couldn´t escape in time. The man beggs Wang not to kill him and for that he gives all his money to Wang ; O-Lan takes many jewels with her. On the way home Wang buys an ox and good seed from the South. When they arrive their hut only the walls are still standing there. The neighbour Ching comes who´s only a shadow of one´s former self who tells them that robbers has come and lived in the hut and that they killed many people also the people from Hwang´s house. There are only a slave and a Lord alive. Wang buys the land from the rich people. Now he has more land than a man can plough with an ox, so he buys a donkey and the land of his neighbour and builts a fourth room to his house where his neighbour could live. When the harvest comes two other men help Ching and Wang to harvest it. During the years Wang gets more men for his fields. So he builds a new house behind the old one where he lives with his family. In the old house Ching lives with the working-men. He sends two sons into school for learning reading and writing. In town a new tea house has opened where Wang sits every day. There he also meets a prostitiute named Lotus. First she seems to be an angel to him because he has never seen such a beautiful girl in his life. One day his uncle comes with his wife and his son and decides to life at Wang´s house.
Wang wants to have Lotus for his own so he builts rooms for her and then he buys her. He spends more and more money for a better life with Lotus. When he tells his oldest son that it is time to get married the son breaks up school and goes to the South part.
But suddenly O-Lan becomes very ill and that is the time since many years that Wang pays some attention to his wife and that he thinks about the past. When Wang notices that his father and O-Lan are near to death he buys two coffins and arranges the marriage of his eldest son.
A few days after the marriage O-Lan and the father die. Wang buries them in a good field behind his house. But it doesn´t take a long time until Wang´s eldest son comes to him and complains about the uncle´s son. He suggests that they should buy Hwang´s house and live there. Wang goes to the big house and rents it - a dream he ever has had. But before they move to the house he arranges a marriage for his second son. From his nephew he hears that a war against the North is up. In the mean time the wife of his eldest son bears a male child. During the birth feast Ching dies. One day Wang´s third son comes to him and tells him that he wants to learn to read and write and that he doesn´t want to stay on the countryside. Wang moves with his eldest son, his daughter- in-law and his grandson to Hwang´s house. Wang now hears of wars every day but he doesn´t pay attention to this talkings because he thinks that he´s save for the simple reason that he is a rich man. But one day rows of men come like clouds of locustus. Wang runs out to see the men. They have no good faces. Everyone of them has a knife and a weapon and every man is wild and fierce. He orders to lock the gate. But suddenly a shout comes out of the rows :'Ho, my old father´s nephew!'. It is his uncle´s son who shouts to the others that Wang is a relative of him and a rich man too. The men run through the gates. It all happens much too quickly as that Wang could do anything. Then the men live in the house for one and a half month till war calls them. One day the youngest son comes and tells his father that he wants to be a soldier. That he will go to the wars. Wang only wants to have peace in his house - a thing he never has had - so he wants to marry his son but when the next morning comes his son disappears and nobody knows where he has gone. Every spring Wang goes to his land because his roots are there although he is rich and now used to an other life. Sometimes he sleeps in his old house. One day when his sons come they say that they will sell the fields and devide the money equally between them. Wang gets so angry with his sons that they promise never to sell the land. Wang says :'Out of the land we come and into we must go if you keep your land you can live no one can rob you of land ' But in truth they want to sell the land.
That the birth of a daughter is an evil sign is for instance that the people tended to superstition. In the China of the old days and in some developing countries a son constitutes a retirement insurance whereas a daughter when she has married doesn´t belong anylonger to her family. Besides later a son can take on the fields and the work of his father.
The position of a woman also wasn´t so good. This you can see that O-Lan only seemed to be a serving-maid to Wang. It also seemed to him that they were married all his life before he got her too.
Now when he had his woman he didn´t has to prepare the food and he didn´t has to look after his father. She always was a silent wife and always beside him when he needed her. Only when she was going to die Wang gave some thoughts to his wife. That was the first time he realized what she has done for him.
Further you can see on the example of Wang how a man changes when he has enough money. In earlier times Wang was confident with his life. he had a good wife and cultivated his fields every day but the more he had, the more he wanted. That was the time he forgot his wife who was at sudden not enough for him. So he bought a prostitute because of her beauty.
But he never forgot his roots. He was united with his land until he died. He said :'Out of the land we come and into we must go if you keep your land you can live no one can rob you of land '.
Land and weather in the beginning always constituted the guarantee to have essential food and in later times it gave his wealth to him.
An other point you can see also today is hidden in the example of the revolution. Poor people fighted against the rich ones because they thought that they could get a better life by killing and robbing.
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