‘The Good Earth’ by Pearl.S.Buck is a beautifully woven story about Wang Lung, a farmer in China during the reign of the last king, and the onset of a new political background. The story starts with Wang Lung’s wedding. A poor man, he marries the slave O-lan from the House of Hwang. The House of Hwang is seen to be connected to each major change in his life. O-lan, a self-reliant, strong, hardworking woman of few words, helps Wang Lung in the fields and takes care of the house with efficiency.
Soon fortune comes knocking at their door, and Wang Lung sees a shift in his standard of living. But they fall on hard times when there is a drought. After sticking it out for sometime, the family travels to South China in hopes of earning a living. Along with thousands of poor people they moved to South China. It was said that the levels of prosperity there was such that every single person was plump with good food. Eventually though, Wang Lung’s love and yearning for his land resulted in the family going back. Through sheer perseverance and a bit of luck, he amasses a great amount of wealth.
The rest of the story is how the wealth changes and influences each character. The only constant in the whole story is Wang Lung’s love for his land, and O-lan’s steadfastness. At the end, what began in the earth, finished in the Earth as Wang Lung is laid to rest in the land he loved continuously .
This was a book that my mom told me I would find slightly dragging. On the contrary, I enjoyed the book immensely and was transported. I walked the courts of the House of Hwang, caught a ride on the firewagon , tilled the earth alongside O-lan and experienced the alleyways of South China.
My favourite character is O-lan. She remained faithful to who she was. Always remembering where she came from, she ensured that every family member was taken care of. The only time she vocalised her discomfort was when she categorically refused to assist anything that had to do with Wang Lung’s mistress. Her death was felt by all members including the readers.
The simplicity of the story helps enjoy it more. An experience that’s worth it.