The Good Earth Compare and Constrast Essay

This essay has a total of 1787 words and 7 pages.

The Good Earth

The novel The Good Earth is a story of a man living in Chinese society around the time of
the Chinese Revolution. Though the story is a work of fiction, some of the events in the
story were actual events that the author, Pearl S. Buck, witnessed or experienced during
her life while in China. The area of China that the story takes place in is based after
the town Nanhsuchou where Buck lived for a period in her life.

The main character in the story is Wang Lung, a hard working, but poor, farmer. At the age
of marriage, and being of low class, Wang Lung, and his father decide that it is best that
he marry a slave, who would be less expensive than other possibilities. Also, if it were
to be a slave than it was less likely to being a pretty wife, and they did not want their
woman to be pretty.

To have a pretty wife would mean that she would have to be kept beautiful and pretty which
was expensive, and they were not rich. Wang Lung needed a wife of low maintenance, who
would be willing and able to help work the land. Also, a wife who was pretty would be more
likely to be looked at and desired by other men and less likely to be a virgin still.

The most important thing in Wang Lung's life is his land. To him, the land is everything;
his work, his food, his standing in society, his sustenance. It is, essentially, his life
force. His understanding is that as long as he has land, he has enough, and to live
without it would seem impossible.

It is said that every seven or eight years the gods feel the need to punish the people,
and they do so sometimes by flooding the precious land. This can be a life threatening
occurrence depending on how long the flood stays. The floods take over all of the fields,
killing most or even all of the crops. Without their crops to harvest, people starve, and
many die.

One of the first floods that takes place during the novel is not as bad as some. It kills
much of the crops, but they are able to survive on what they have stored and what they are
able to purchase. Many in the nearby village are not as lucky, and many starved to death.
In addition to starving, many people lost their homes as well. Most families' homes were
made of mud and earth and when the waters came, it took their homes.

Another flood that occurred was not as kind to Wang Lung's family. Though their home was
safely built on hill, they were left with almost no food, and the money supply dwindling.
This forced them to leave their homes before they, too, starved to death. They went south,
as many people did, in hopes if nothing else of making it through the winter.

The city was a hard place to live as well. They were forced to make their home out of
boards that basically only gave them a roof to keep the rain off of them. Having no land
to harvest and to feed them, they are forced to bring in money in other ways. O-lan, Wang
Lung's wife, would spend each day begging for money from those more fortunate. Wang Lung
found himself a job as a riksha puller. A riksha is a carriage for a human, which is
pulled by other humans. It is similar to a taxi service, except more degrading for the one
pulling is treated like an animal.

Between the two sources of income they still made barely enough to survive each day. They
were fortunate that in this city there was a place similar to a soup kitchen that served
food to the poor. They received only a small bowl a rice, very cheaply, but any food, no
matter how little, is better than nothing at all. The rich people of the city were the
ones who funded this rice kitchen. They did so in hopes of people looking on them better
for being generous and giving to the poor. It was also just another way of showing the
people how wealthy they were in that they were able to spend so much money.

The floods were not the only travesty that the people had to suffer through. One day there
was a strange cloud far off in the distance, and the people knew what it must be. It was
locusts; hungry, starving and unforgiving locusts. Though the people did what they could
to save any of their crops, most were lost once the cloud of locust was there. Some of the
poor even ate the dead locusts that remained since the locusts had eaten their entire
crop.

All through the devastation they suffered, life was increasing hard due to the rising
number of mouths in the home. To have a boy was much more fortunate than to have a girl.
If one was to have a girl, then from the day she was born she would only be thought of as
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