Themes in the Good Earth

In Pearl Bucks novel The Good Earth she gives an inside look at the Chinese culture. In the novel Wang Lung is poor farmer married to O-Lan, a loving wife who takes care of Wang Lung’s father, plus her own children. Three themes that Pearl Buck uses are survival, family structure, and the subjugation of women. One theme used to show Chinese culture is survival. For example, when Wang Lung’s family is struggling to find food, his sons steal meat, and they defend themselves by saying, “I took it – it is mine, this meat (Buck 112). When it is hard to survive it can make a person do something that they wouldn’t normally do. Survival not only changes a person, but it also changes their outlook on life. While O-Lan was giving birth to another child Wang Lung is thinking, “Male or female it mattered nothing to him now – there was only another mouth coming which must be fed (Buck 81). ” Trying to survive took Wang Lung’s excitement and turned it into worry. Pearl Buck is trying to show that if people are trying to survive that they will do anything possible.
Another theme used is family structure. For example, Wang Lung’s father never had to worry about going hungry, “As for the old man, he fared better than any, for if there was anything to eat he was given it, even though the children were without (Buck 78). ” No matter what the circumstances are, the eldest male in the house will always be served first. Even while there was no women around Wang Lung still had to serve his father.
Associated essay: Themes Developed in Maru

After Wang Lung’s mother died he had to be the one to take care of the old man, “Every morning for these six years the old man had waited for his son to bring in hot water to ease him of his morning coughing (Buck 3). ”Even though Wang Lung is a man with no woman around him, he must take care of the oldest in the house. Pearl Buck is trying to show the respect and loyalty that people in China have for family. One last theme used in the novel, is the subjugation of women.
For example, when Wang Lung is thinking of selling his daughter O-Lan tells him about her past, “I was beaten with a leather thong which had been halter for one of the mules, and it hung up on the kitchen wall (Buck 135). ” Women were treated as nothing more than an animal. Not only were slaves treated badly but so were the daughters. When Wang Lung is waiting to find out the sex of his baby he reacts badly when he finds that it is a girl, “Wang Lung stood still. A sense of evil struck him. A girl! (Buck 65). Even though Wang Lung wanted children he is sickened to have a daughter. Pearl Buck is trying to show people just how far that women have come. All in all three themes that Pearl Buck uses are survival, family structure, and the subjugation of women. Some points that Pearl Buck is trying to point out are that survival changes people in drastic ways, family order always comes first, and that women are treated no better than animals. There are many more themes in this novel to show the importance of Chinese culture.

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