The Good Earth Study Guide

The Good Earth Study Guide

Original title:
The Good Earth

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck was a bestseller of its time and played a prominent part in getting its author the Nobel Prize for literature. A family drama set in China before the World War I, this book showed the readers the Chinese culture, struggles and hopes, their ideas and worldview. The popularity of the novel also helped Americans during the World War II see the Chinese people as allies, because lots of them have read The Good Earth before and already felt sympathy for the Chinese.

The story protagonist, a young Chinese man called Wang Lung is kind and noble person, ready to work hard to provide his future family with food. His future wife, a slave girl called O-Lan lives nearby, being a property of a rich and hedonistic family that is slowly degrading due to laziness and drug dependency. O-Lan works as hard as Wang Lung to buy herself out and get some land so she and Wang Lung can leave peacefully. But when the couple finally achieves their goal to be together, the war starts. They both survive through countless horrors, even not seeing the war itself. Wang Lung has to hide to avoid being conscripted, O-Lan has to adapt to the industrial environment, realizing that she doesn’t know how to earn for living in the city.

The couple tries to live up to the moral standards they sincerely believe to, but the conditions become dire and the choice is now surrendering the morals or dying of hunger.

The story of the family of Wang Lung and O-Lan shows us how horribly can the war change people. We see the fates of the next generation of the family and can only wonder if the House of Hwang - the family O-Lan was a slave of - have survived through similar horrors that eroded their morals and finally brought them to their end.

New Essays

The Good Earth Essay

Characters Roles In The Good Earth In The Good Earth, the introduction states that “The Good Earth endures because it reminds, once again, that despite our differences- in language, culture, and religion- there are certain qualities that we share as humans. ” (Buck viii) The Good Earth written by...

The Good Earth

The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck Essential Questions: • How does Buck portray the theme of contentment vs. greed? Can wealth destroy traditional values? • What does it take to make one truly happy? • How does literature show the effects of social class and oppression? • How does the novel explore...

The Good Earth; Importance of the Setting

The Good Earth In the book The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, the setting is very essential, as it is with most all books. The setting shapes the entire book, and it could not have been set in a different time or place and still have had the same effect. Throughout the book there are hardships as...

Analysis of the Good Earth

Filthy Rich “When the rich are too rich there are ways, and when the poor are too poor there are ways” (Buck, 118). Pearl Buck, in her novel The Good Earth, shows how wealth can corrupt a man if there is too much of it. The fatal flaw for the main character, Wang Lung, was held in his wants and...

See all essays