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The Good Earth in Relation to Food and Culture

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The following in a report on the themes and action of The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck as it relates to food and culture.

This novel tells the story of Wang Lung. He is a man who rises from being a poor farmer to a very wealthy man because of his faith in the good earth. In the beginning of the story Wang Lung tries to see as little water as possible because he feels safest with his land under his feet. His family is very poor so he must feed his father corn gruel and tea.

Wang Lung needs a wife so saves up the little money he has and buys a woman who is a slave named O-lan. O-lan is sold to Wang Lung so she can take care of the home, cooking and bear children. Wang Lung is disappointed when he first sees O-lan because she does not have bound feet which was a desirable quality at that time but he does enjoy when O-lan has the food ready when he comes in a night from the land. Wang Lung is very proud when O-lan makes cakes that no one else in the village knows how to makes and when his family comes to feast for the new year at their house.

As a humble farmer Wang Lung always pay his respects to the figures of the Earth god and his mistress when he passes. Wang Lung's love for the earth is the chief driving force in his life. It is also the foundation of his family and the one he turns to when he has troubles. Land is a sign and a symbol to Wang Lung.

When O-lan's and Wang Lung's first child is born they dye eggs red and distribute them to the village to shown their first born is a male. After a year of good rains Wang Lung begins to amass a good fortune so he hides the money that they make so people will not try to borrow it. Again, the produce from the year is good, and Wang Lung is able to hide more silver. He buy land from the great house in town and it is very fruitful, yielding more harvest than his own land. Now everyone in the village knows that Wang Lung is the owner of a piece of the Hwang land. His status rises in the village.

The following year the rains don't come and the land dries up. The family is barely able to grow much and must kill their ox to eat. He resents the gods for the misfortune and drags himself to the temple of the earth. He spits at the earthen figurines in anger and bitterness. The uncle brings men to help Wang Lung sell his land. Looking at the well-fed men from the town, Wang Lung says that he will not sell his land. When he asks one of the men how much he will pay for the land, the man states a price that is hardly anything for a piece of land. Wang Lung yells that he will never sell his land: "I shall never sell the land! Bit by bit, I will dig up the fields and feed the earth itself to the children and when they die I will bury them in the land, and I and my wife and my old father, even he, we will die on the land that has given us birth."

Because of the famine that follows the family goes south to find food because the can no longer grow anything on their land. In the city they must go to the public kitchens for food and beg in the streets. Wang Lung works by pulling a rickshaw to earn money. Kiangsu, the city, is very different from Anhwei, Wang Lung's birthplace. Another thing that Wang Lung learns about the city is that there is a general abundance of food. In the city, markets are filled with various foodstuffs, and no one seems to starve. Wang Lung and his family go to the public kitchen to be fed because they can never afford to get enough money to cook in their hut. Whenever they have any extra money, the family buys some cabbage to cook, and the boys steal fuel from the fuel carts in the streets

Wang Lung's family and many others live in poverty, unable to participate in any of the luxuries of the city, working at the service of the rich. The children steal whenever they can.They work all their lives only to be living on the fringes of poverty, barely able to feed themselves. The father tells Wang Lung that he always returned to the land.

O-lan tells him that it is possible to return if they would only sell the girl child.

To Wang Lung, there is always the land. "Money and food are eaten and gone, and if there is not sun and rain in proportion, there is again hunger."

One day, Wang Lung is told to stop coming to the houses of merchandise, and the public kitchen closes. Wang Lung steal gold from a rich man and returns home He plans that they will go back to their land tomorrow. He prepare for the homecoming by buying wheat, rice, and corn seeds from the south, vegetable seeds, and an ox. Once they are home in the evening, he stands and looks out at his land, wishing to be alone with it.

Completely devoted to his land, Wang Lung spends days thinking of what to plant on what part of his land. When he is tired, he lies down on the earth to sleep. Before long, things are as they were before. O-lan, his wife is pregnant again, and the children play. The rice and the beans grow in the fields.

They again have enough money to buy more land.Wang Lung again buys land from the house of Hwang. Ching and Wang Lung plant rice in the fields that have had much rain and Wang Lung hires two workers for the harvest. He also has his two sons work I the fields. O-lan does not work in the fields because Wang Lung can afford laborers. Wang Lung expands his fortune and enlarges his house. Although a prosperous landowner, he is ignorant. One day, he decides to put the eldest son in school so that he may be a scholar, accompanying Wang Lung to grain markets to read and write for him.

During the seventh year, the lands are flooded. There is enough in the storage for the family to survive and his house is built on a hill.The lands cannot be worked.

Wang Lung is very proud when his son is able to read and write. The New Year comes, and villagers come to see Wang Lung to wish him happiness. With food everywhere on the table, people know that Wang Lung has had another good year.

One day, the locusts come, threatening to destroy the crops. Although



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