Good Earth Gives Easy Access to Dying Chinese Culture

The Good Earth follows a Chinese farmer, Wang Lung, from his wedding day to his death.

Novelist Pearl S. Buck spent most of her life in China. She knows the pre-revolutionary rural life intimately. Through Wang Lung, Buck shows an entire culture.

Wang Lung puts his heart and soul into farming and O-lan, a former kitchen slave, is beside him every step. Besides doing housework, she works with Wang Lung in the fields, stopping only to bear his children.

Hard work — and good luck — eventually make them rich. But wealth is a mixed blessing.

Wang Lung buys a second, expensive wife. His sons are rebellious. He’s forced to take in his uncle’s family. And the doctor cannot cure O-lan’s fatal illness for any amount of money.

The Good Earth reads more like biography than like fiction. Perhaps that’s one reason the novel has endured. Wang Lung’s bafflingly un-American ways of thinking would seem preposterous in a standard American novel format.

Don’t be put off by all Buck’s literary awards. Her writing is simple and direct, not in the least “literary.” You’ll find The Good Earth easy reading.

The Good Earth
By Pearl S. Buck
John Day Co., 1931.
#1 bestseller  in 1931
My grade: Grade: A
© 2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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