Customer Reviews for

The Good Earth

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

An Easy Classic to Master...

This was my first Pearl S. Buck book and I have to say I would have no problem reading another. I particularly enjoyed the way Buck portrayed China, its class systems/struggles, and family cultures. When reading the story it was obvious Buck was very knowledgable of Chi...
This was my first Pearl S. Buck book and I have to say I would have no problem reading another. I particularly enjoyed the way Buck portrayed China, its class systems/struggles, and family cultures. When reading the story it was obvious Buck was very knowledgable of China and the time setting in which the story occurred. Although there were many times I had a strong dislike of the main character there were times when the reader could not help but be impressed with his resolve. The saddest moments in the book involved those dealings with his wife. We should all be very thankful not to be a laboror's wife in revolutionary China. For those readers afraid of the classics do not be afraid of this one. It reads very quickly and easily

posted by pjpick on April 24, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Cultural Masterpiece

The Good Earth is truely a timeless classic. I originally read it for my 8th grade language arts course and fell in love with Buck's gritty realism and expression of the naturalistic style pioneered in the early 20th century. To those who have not yet read it, the novel...
The Good Earth is truely a timeless classic. I originally read it for my 8th grade language arts course and fell in love with Buck's gritty realism and expression of the naturalistic style pioneered in the early 20th century. To those who have not yet read it, the novel won both the Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize for Literature, for its unmasking of pre-revolutionary China to the eyes of Western culture. Wang Lung's wit, quirk, and personal flaws makes him such a lovable character, and none can help but to have pity upon the submissive O-Lan. The facts of poverty, wealth, love, and family are so true to life, even more than a century later. A must-read!

posted by Anonymous on January 2, 2013

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  • Posted April 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An Easy Classic to Master...

    This was my first Pearl S. Buck book and I have to say I would have no problem reading another. I particularly enjoyed the way Buck portrayed China, its class systems/struggles, and family cultures. When reading the story it was obvious Buck was very knowledgable of China and the time setting in which the story occurred. Although there were many times I had a strong dislike of the main character there were times when the reader could not help but be impressed with his resolve. The saddest moments in the book involved those dealings with his wife. We should all be very thankful not to be a laboror's wife in revolutionary China. For those readers afraid of the classics do not be afraid of this one. It reads very quickly and easily

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2013

    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck is a story of a family in China

    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck is a story of a family in China who struggles during a famine and drought in the 1890's. This novel illustrates the harsh life of farmer, Wang Lung and his wife and former slave, O-lan. Wang Lung was told he could not marry an ugly woman. When Wang Lung and O-Ian get married, Wang Lung doesn’t know if his wife even likes him. They had 2 sons and 2 daughters but O-Ian strangled the 2nd daughter born because there was not enough food to feed another mouth. The famine got so bad that Wang Lung killed his ox to have food. Also people across the land were getting so hungry that they started eating human flesh. Gross. 




    When the famine got worse than it was people in his town broke into his house and took whatever food he had left. People started selling their furniture and land. After the famine got so bad he decided to move his family south. On the train some men taught Wang Lung how to beg, he needed experience to live in the south. Wang Lung doesn't like the idea of begging and hopes to find work. 
    I recommend this book because it shows the hardship of life and shows the history of China. This book is a great read for people who want to learn about Chinese culture. This novel is a fictional story but the experiences of the characters in this time period actually happened in Chinese culture. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2001

    A well written book

    I felt that The Good Earth was an extremely well written book.I learned a lot about life in China and how women were treated. The story was very interesting and descriptive.It gave me a new perspective on values,family,and the simplicity of life,in general.I would definately recommend this book to others.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2012

    Wang is a Dog!

    I really loved this book, except for the main character. I absolutely loved his wife, O-lan, and I HATED when he did wrong by the woman who was responsible for his wealth.

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  • Posted January 4, 2012

    A thoroughly entertaining journey through early 20th-c China

    I love novels that help me to experience a new culture, and the Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck took me on a thoroughly entertaining journey through early 20th-c China. We follow the lives of the hardworking but poor farmer Wang Lung, who marries the plain and thrifty slave O-Lan. Together, they set out on an adventure to improve their lives. But if they succeed, will they inevitably change from simple, industrious farmers to ape the idle lifestyles of the country¿s Ladies and Lords? This is the question at the heart of the novel. Drought, flood, locusts, starvation, robbers and hangers on assault Wang Lung and O-Lan¿s endeavours, but with their hard work, luck, and O-Lan¿s wiles, they survive and begin to prosper. That is when their real troubles begin, and the repercussions reverberate through their entire household. Ms Buck paints a vivid picture of the struggles ordinary people had to endure in China at the time, and the opium induced stupor of the rich to the plight of their fellow citizens. The fact that the author spent most of the first half of her life in China (her Chinese name was Sai Zhenzhu ) also adds much credibility to the images her work evokes. I¿ll definitely be putting the rest of Ms Buck¿s novels set in China on my to read list.

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  • Posted August 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A classic everyone should read.

    Finally knocked this one off my list of classics missing from my reading repertoire and so glad I did! Amazing that Buck -- an American -- was able to capture China so well -- and from a man's perspective. No wonder she won the Nobel.

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  • Posted October 20, 2009

    The Good Earth is a very interesting book to read. This book contains parts with strong morals and life advice.

    The Good Earth is a book that has many dynamic characters. This book is not meant to be entertaining. The book is a story of a man's hard life of work. The main character, Wang Lung, starts out as a poor farmer who has to take care of his sick father. Wang's life changes when he marries his wife, Olan, that bears him lucky sons. A famine comes over the town and kills the villagers' crops and cuts-off the food supply. Wang Lung has agreedy uncle who always asks him for food and money. His uncle is filled with jealousy because of Wang's success. Later in the story Wang tricks his uncle into becoming an opium adict. Though this sounds harsh, it was neccessary because Wang Lung became wealthy because of the Land that he farmed. He is then able to take care of his wife, sons, and mentally retarded daughter. This book show that success is achieved by smart decisions.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2008

    Review For Gifted

    Pearl S. Buck¿s Good Earth was a very interesting novel that takes place in the 20th century. In this novel, Wang Lung, a poor, simple Chinese farmer living with his father, has his life turned around when he gets married to a hard working slave named Olan. When things were beginning to look good for Wang Lung, his land turned on him. Having to take care of his own children and his wife plus the family of his greedy uncle, Wang Lung fled to the city and took his family with him. Once Wang Lung and his family came back home his luck changed Olan stole jewels from a rich man¿s house. Even the Earth was now on his side. But with all this money comes greed. With his money he hired men to work on his land, but without the land he needed something preoccupy him so he began to be rude to his wife. He even went to a teashop and found a woman named Lotus who later became his concubine, and he was careless with his money as he doted on her. Wang Lung¿s sons became very needy, Olan grew sick and lotus did not speak to Wang Lung. But the most important thing to him had been and always will be his land. I think Pearl S. Buck made ancient Chinese Culture very fascinating with this novel. It takes you through the life of a Chinese family and showed us the ups and downs of their life. I recommend this novel to everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    I started reading The Good Earth in my gifted class this year. Judging from the title I would not have chosen to read The Good Earth for my personal entertainment. I was mistaken The Good Earth is an amazing book. I was captivated in Pearl S. Buck's writing. The Good Earth shows the struggle one family goes through in 20th century China. The first couple of chapters in The Good Earth are introductions to the characters of Wang-Lung's, the main character, family and friends. . Olan, Wang-Lung¿s wife, is a very quiet, but caring mother. Olan tried her best to make the family live well, and Olan worked hard in the fields and house without ever complaining. Wang-Lung¿s father is elderly and usually sleeps and drinks tea in his room. The eldest son and the second son of Wang-Lung went to school to learn how to read and write. The eldest daughter of Wang-Lung was born mentally challenged, so she stays at home with Olan, Wang-Lung, and grandfather. The youngest son did not go to school, instead work on his father¿s land. The youngest daughter helped her mother around the house with chores. Lotus, Wang-Lung¿s concubine, lived in the inner courts of Wang-Lung¿s house. Concubines are second wives for men when they have lusty desire. Cuckoo, Lotus¿s servant, lived in the inner courts of Wang-Lung¿s house with Lotus. Cuckoo and Olan brought tension to the house. In the beginning of the novel, Wang-Lung is not wealthy. He lives with his father in a two-roomed house. Wang-Lung and Olan marry each other. Olan and Wang- Lung has three sons and two daughters together. When Wang-Lung desires more in his private life he gets a concubine named Lotus. Cuckoo is hired to tend to Lotus¿s pleasures because Olan refuses to work for Lotus. Olan becomes ill after having birth to the last two children. Wang-Lung and his family move to the House of Hwang, this action is a symbol that Wang-Lung is a wealthy man now. Wang-Lung is earning money from the land that he bought. Wang-Lung returns to his old house because he wants to die with his land. He tells his eldest and second son to take care of the land, but the sons will sell the land to build a train route. The Good Earth was a fantastic book. I would recommend this book to someone that is interested in historical fiction, suspense, and drama. I really enjoyed The Good Earth because Pearl S. Buck gave so much details for the readers to be able to make a mental picture of it in their heads.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    My Opinion on The Good Earth is that it's an extraordinary book that could teach many things on the ancient ways of a Chinese family,also the misjudgment of women and how they were taken for granted. Overall this was a great book to read and I recommend this book to everyone who wants to take in some ancient cultures, traditions and the struggles, and the way to overcome life challenges and last how hard work take's Wang Lung's family to greatness. The Good Earth is a good gook to show the misjudgment of women, for example Olan is a good way to show this because Wang Lung does not see her as a wife or something he can lust for but something that will bear him children (male) and serve him as a slave. Seeing that Olan id treated as Wang Lung's property she is loyal and hard working and has the same mind as Wang Lung about conserving water and not wasting money until the end of her life in the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    I¿m a student in a gifted class and my teacher told us that we were going to read this book. Well when I started this book I really wasn¿t excited, then when I got to about the third chapter, it started to rise in action, like how Wang Lung¿s character started to change. Then a great famine came and most of the town was hit by it and they had to live their live begging for food because all their crops died. Wang Lung had to leave his land to head south so he and his family wouldn¿t die of starvation. Pearl S. Buck really did a good job explaining this book in great detail. This topic is a very intense topic to explain and she explained it very well. This book keeps leading you on to what is going to happen next, which is something that I like in a book. You will never want to put it down! The Plot of this story is very interesting it¿s like going back in time to 21st Century China. If you read it you will surely enjoy it trust me. This story is very true because how it explains the way it was to live in early China and to be rich and or to be poor. It explains both sides 'to be rich or poor' because in the beginning of this book Wang Lung is very poor but at the end he is very rich. This Book also talks about how it was to go through the changes that happen and all the possibilities that could of happened. Wang Lung Is a very resourceful person in the beginning of the book because he was poor and was careful but when you get to the end of the book he doesn¿t really care any more because he has lots of money. If you start reading this book and you get very bored of it please don¿t put it down because once you reach the third or fourth chapter you will never want to put it down. Overall this book is really intriguing and I think that you should read. I guarantee that if you read it you will thank yourself and me for choosing it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    The Good Earth was a very compelling and interesting book. It began with a slow start but the more you got into the book and really stuck your fork in it the more it pulled you in. The main character Wang Lung was a real character. The entire book really is a guide through his life. As the book begins Wang Lung is a poor farmer going to the House of Hwang to purchase his bride. Through out the story we go through Wang Lung¿s highs one being encountering a lot of well fortune, lows one being Wang Lung and his family having to move to the south, and get the story from his point of view. At times Wang Lung was cruel and other times he was very loving so while reading this book he was really the character you love to hate. One of my favorite characters was Olan. Olan is the woman that Wang Lung marries and the woman that bears his children. Even though she was more of an action instead of a spoken character you always wanted to know what was happening with her. Her character really showed what a lot of women back then went through. Most women back then were only seen as property. Olan did all the cooking, helped Wang Lung on the field, did the cleaning, and took care of everybody in the house. She was a very important character that kept you intrigued. Throughout the book their luck changes from good to bad to horrible and then ends the book pretty well off. At the beginning Wang Lung and Olan would work together in the fields silently, from daybreak to nightfall. After awhile the family received a gift from the gods. Their first child along with Wang Lung growing extremely well crops and being able to buy more land. Unfortunately, after awhile, there was a drought and the family had to pickup and move to the South so that they could survive. After a while there were trouble in the South so they moved back up North but they didn¿t leave empty handed. Olan was able to take some very valuable treasures from the a Great House in the South and Wang Lung acquired some gold pieces that he used to buy some seeds that he would not have been able to purchase back North. With this advantage, Wang Lung brought more land, hired a very close friend and neighbor Li, to help him with the land and he set forth to gain back his fortune. After the family began to grow wealthy Wang Lung began to be used by his own uncle. His uncle would live in his house, consume his food, and do no work at all along with his uncle¿s wife and son. In the end because of how upset Wang Lung was him and his wife had to think up something that would lead up to the demise of his uncle and his uncle¿s wife. After that was done and they uncle and wife were done with, Wang Lung grew old, had many children and grandchildren, and put up with lots of drama with his own children. He was ready to have his final moment of peace because he knew his time on the good earth was coming to and end yet he was very content because he knew that his family would always have his land. However, little did he know that his family specifically his sons had something else in mind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    I am in a gifted class at a preparatory academy, and as a class we were all assigned to read the Good Earth. The Good Earth was a very compelling novel, and in my opinion, Pearl S. Buck, the author, organized the book very well, except in the end, I would have loved to know what was going to happen next to Wang Lung, but that¿s how a book should be. So to start off, Wang Lung is the main character of the book. Wang Lung is married to O- lan, who is a dull, common woman whose feet were not bound, which in ancient China was thought of being the only way a woman could be wed, O-lan never talked, except for the brief necessities of life. Wang Lung never noticed these features about O-lan because all he could think about was his land and crops. Wang Lung and O-lan have two sons and a daughter. To Wang Lung, the son is the most important thing out of all his children, by custom boys and men are always more important because they can carry the last name. But Wang likes to see his little girls smiling face looking up at him. O-lan and Wang Lung live in a house with the Old Man. Wang Lung was a very resourceful person, who disliked wasting items, such as, never wasting water, not taking baths for months, and making little amounts of tea. In the end, Wang Lung thought that money could buy him happiness and peace, but all that it brought him was war in his household, he had one son going to war, many family members leaving the earth, and sons with money going to waste and being shown off. In the beginning, the family is living on a good Earth where they were very fortunate, they received a good earth and they were very wealthy. Then they begin to encounter problems, the earth never brings them rain, which causes no vegetation or crops to grow, which causes the sellers to have nothing to sell, and that causes them to make or receive no money, and also there are no animals around because families are killing them and eating them since there is nothing else to eat. The family then moves to the south, there many things go wrong for Wang Lung on his journey to the south, his sons are stealing food, he is forced to beg, and one of his daughters was murdered right when she was born. But then, the Earth develops and gets better and better, and it starts to rain, and the crops start to grow and more animals start to show up. While the Earth is getting better, Wang Lung is getting richer and richer, because he is selling rice, because there is so much rain that it is flooding which is what the rice crops need. The House of Hwang, which is where Wang Lung bought O-lan from, O- lan went in, after they moved to the south and moved back. O-lan then has three more children, twins, a boy and a girl, and another girl, which Wang Lung considered his ¿poor fool¿ because she always sat there twirling her towel and smiling and then frowning and so on. Since the family was so rich, they hired workers to work in the field for them and they ended up sitting around a lot, during this Wang Lung was starting to notice how ugly, dull, and quiet that O-lan was, so he decided to look at concubines, which is a woman who lives with a man but has a lower status than his wife, for a woman named Lotus. Lotus is a very frail woman, with bound feet Lotus¿ name is pretty self-explanatory. Lotus was raised in a very rich household so she expects great things for her. Wang Lung tends to all of her needs and her caretaker, Cuckoo, as well. Wang Lung buys them both very expensive foods. Lotus soon makes friends with the Uncle¿s Wife, which Wang Lung dislikes very much, but ends up buying all three of them expensive foods to eat in the inner courts. This novel is very touching but at the same time you want to say, ¿Why the heck did you do that.¿ I would recommend this book to people of all ages this was a great book to read in class and out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    The Good Earth was an exciting and alluring novel. In the beginning of the novel, Wang Lung was poor and I thought that the entire story was going to be about his character. But then that¿s when he bought a slave (which is all he could afford) from the Great House of Hwang and later had children. But then Wang Lung and his family (his dad, the old man, Olan, his wife, his daughter the poor fool and the two sons) moved to south because they didn¿t have much food and wanted to begin a new start but turned out to live in poverty. Then he became rich when the gates of the rich opened and Olan found precious stones. That is when his character becomes self- serving. He thought that money would bring him ¿peace¿ but it just brought more chaos. Olan was the slave that Wang Lung bought. Wang Lung wasn¿t really impressed because she had unbound feet and she was ugly in his eyes. She fulfilled her duties such as cleaning, cooking and taking care of everyone in the house and never said a word unless she was spoken too, even at that her words were few. I thought that Olan deserved more respect because she conceived much sought after sons and she was faithful to Wang Lung throughout her life. It was a sorrowful moment when she died and it finally occurred to Wang Lung how important Olan was. The entire novel was powerful the way that it attracted the reader¿s attention and there was never a dull moment if there was it was not obvious.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2008

    The Good Earth Review

    This book is about Wang Lung (the protagonist) and his life. While you¿re reading this book you should notice a shift. Wang Lung climbs the ladder from very poor to wealthy. Wang Lung is very poor, resourceful, humble and hardworking. For example, he only takes a bath when going to the Great House to buy Olan (his wife). After he bathes himself he takes the water and pours it on the ground, which shows that he is very resourceful. Wang Lung loves his land. He gains his riches by selling his land and purchasing more land. Wang Lung grows wealthy because Olan contributed rich jewels by discovering a loose brick in the House Of Hwang and she found jewels and stones. Therefore, Wang Lung became wealthy. But when he becomes wealthy he starts to not take care of his land and has workers to do it for him. After a while, he offends Olan and gets a concubine (Lotus) and betrays Olan. So your probably wondering who¿s Olan. Well, Olan (Wang Lung¿s wife) is very hardworking, she does almost everything in the house (cooking, working on the land, giving birth to the children, cleaning and basically everything else). Olan is almost never treated with respect (In China women were not important they just did things in the house). Olan is the ideal wife for Wang Lung he never has to reprimand her or tell her anything twice. But, Lotus is the complete opposite of Olan. She is a spoiled brat. Since she is Wang Lung¿s concubine she has to fullfill his ¿sexual desires¿ he longs for her ¿love¿. When Lotus doesn¿t get her way she avoids Wang Lung and does not fullfill his ¿desires¿. In conclusion, I enjoyed this book. My favorite character was Olan because she is an independent woman and she is not spoiled like Lotus, she does everything she is supposed to do without questioning plus she is the nicest and honest character in the story. I recommend this book to everyone because it is a magnificent story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2008

    AP World History Review: A Very Meaningful Novel

    I am a student of an AP World History class. I enjoyed reading this novel because it provided the other side of the mirror view of modernization. The protagonist of the novel, Wang Lung, is forced to experience the cyclical pattern of money and power in China. He begins as a poor farmer, but he eventually gains money. Mistakes he makes throughout his life results in his downfall. The Good Earth takes place in central China during the early twentieth century. At this point, China shows signs of modernizing, but breaking its connection with tradition seems to be impossible. Throughout the novel, China is viewed as a deteriorating country because citizens are having trouble supporting themselves. A famine that broke out throughout China caused damage to several families. (paragraph break) The objective of the novel is to show the effects of China not modernizing, and Buck does an excellent job showing this. It is evident that China declined economically through not modernizing. First-hand experience through living in China provides Buck a solid view about China during this tough time. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the global effects of modernization and industrialization. The Western world dominates economically while the Eastern world slowly rots. Throughout the novel, poverty is apparent and citizens are forced to ransack the homes of rich men. The economic troubles in China causes much harm to citizens.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2007

    Good Book

    I recommend reading 'The Good Earth'. It was very easy to understand. I read it within a week and it usually takes me a while to read a book thats over 200 pages long. I didn't want to put this book down. (usually i have to be forced to read a book unless I really like it.) It's about a Chineese family and how important the Earth is for them to survive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2007

    English Class Review

    The Good Earth was a simple, relaxing book to read. However, deep in the text, the protagonist Wang Lung's emotions are expressed. The focus of the novel is Wang Lung's character development from a young man nervous about marrying a slave woman to an older, wiser man with land and many children. Throughout the book, Wang Lung searches for things that might please him, such as wealth, owning land, and a secondary wife. Uncontrollable variables such as the roughness of seasons and robbers pose many issues for Wang Lung. All of these things always relate back to the Earth. The Earth is depicted in this book as giving, plentiful, but powerful in good and bad ways. I find the importance of Earth in this book applicable to today's world in terms of the environment, so the book was interesting to connect to my life. For those who love a book with rich culture and history, The Good Earth is set in the pre-Mao era of China, and much of the book's plots and themes surround Chinese culture of this period. The book has a view on family very different from Western views, and in general, views of this time. I found many things unusual to me about what was accepted and not accepted in this culture. Therefore, for those looking for perspective, The Good Earth is a great read. In my opinion, the book didn't have too much excitement, and it kind of just dragged on through the protagonist's life. Nonetheless, it is worthy of being a classic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2007

    A Relaxing read.

    The Good Earth is a very calming novel. Although it could be a drag to read at times, Pearl Buck successfully develops many interesting plots and conflicts in some places of the story to keep the reader intrigued. Also, Pearl Buck develops the earth as a very important aspect of the novel. The earth not only acts as life for Wang Lung's crops, but it ends up becoming Wang Lung's life as well. This symbol and importance of the earth becomes an interesting image that enhances the plot of this novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2007

    This is a natural and a compelling novel

    This novel is a beautifully written novel that explores the classes in rank in the chinese culture. The way that the women were treated really angered me about how women in those days could not fight for themselves and their rights, but this book shows how devoted the women were. The ranks during the time really gripped me because the people were so paranoid about their rank, in terms of money and land. This book really has the qualities that make readers really want to hold on to the book. This book is a splendid and an easy to read novel that anyone can enjoy.

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