Finding Fulfillment in The Good Earth
The Good Earth is a novel written by Pearl S. Buck. It is set in China and on the day of Wang Lung's marriage. Wang Lung is a poor peasant farmer whose love for the land sustains him through the difficult times of his life. He married a slave from the great house, and he moves from a poor, humble, country farmer to a wealthy, respected, landowning patriarch. He moves into the house that he bought his wife from, and dies content with his faith in the good earth. The name of the novel is misleading because we have to wonder if the earth is really good to Wang Lung.
"There was only this perfect sympathy of movement, of turning this earth of theirs over and over to the sun, this earth which formed their home and fed their bodies and made their gods...Some time, in some age, bodies of men and women had been buried there, houses had stood there, had fallen, and gone back into the earth. So would also their house, some time, return into the earth, their bodies also. Each had his turn at this earth. They worked on, moving together-together-producing the fruit of this earth." (Ch. 1, pg. 22). People have taken their turn on the earth. The lived and died for the earth; the earth provided them with food and with shelter. "Well and [the children] must all starve if the plants starve." (Chapter 8, pg. 48) There are times of drought and times of flooding. There were times where there wasn't any food and the rains ruined shelter. Wang Lung spent most of his life rebuilding what was ruined, and when it was rebuilt, it was ruined again. But after many years of working hard, Wang Lung gained enough money to own lots of land. The only difference between a pheasant like the one that Wang Lung started out to be, and a great man like the one Wang Lung ended up being is land. Wang owned enough land that he didn't feel hurt by floods or droughts any more. "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." (Chapter 9, pg. 61). Wang Lung was committed to the earth even if that meant the end of his life.