Free "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck Essay Sample

The novel The Good Earth by Pearl Sydenstricker Buck was so popular, well-written and deep that it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938. It can be recommended even after seventy years to all the people around the world notwithstanding their age, nationality, social status or position in the society. It both reveals the eternal struggle of people aimed at being happy and successful and portrays the attitude towards women, the poor and the elderly in the society. 

The novel depicts the whole life of a Chinese man who is a peasant farmer. It starts from his early years and finishes with his death. The readers learn what trials and hardships he faces being a poor man who wants to improve his life and show his love for land. The author shows the complicated relationships between the poor and the rich. Wang Lung is a laughing stock even for a gate keeper of the Great House because of his low social status. This experience makes him get a dream to have his own land. Having bought some land, he feels more confident and safe. The ability to afford education is another difference between the rich and the poor. Wang Lung purchases another piece of land and decides to give his sons a good education though he cannot write or read himself. He knows that money gives more opportunities and sees a gap between the wealthy and the poor as well as the attitude to those who do not have money. 


It is clear from the book that according to the Chinese traditions, women are submissive and the will of men is a law for them. All decisions are taken by men who are always superior. There is even a difference in attitude towards the children. Girls are supposed to be serving at some other houses like slaves, while boys are born to have the property, keep the traditions and carry the family name. Having a wife, it is even normal in that society for a husband to take concubines. Wang Lung chooses his wife, O Lan, because she is considered ugly for her big feet and can be helpful in housework and work on the land. They have children and she is extremely obedient and nice to him like to her master. Even being pregnant she keeps working on the fields with Wang Lung. She tidies the house, does the cooking and never thinks of any entertainment or buying new clothes. But there is no love in Wang Lung’s attitude to a woman. Even after O Lang dies, her husband hardly has any regret and even buries her in a costly coffin only out of duty. 

The father of Wang Lung is an example of the role the elderly people play in the Chinese society. There is a tradition to look after the parents when they get older and take care of them. Men listen to their wise words and Wang Lung even chooses his wife following his father’s advice. His life style is similar to his father’s who came from the family of peasants and devoted all his life to working in the fields. It is a sign of the son’s honor and respect.

To sum up, The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck depicts how different population groups are treated in the Chinese society but it is not a totally authentic book. The setting of the novel is agricultural China but the author appeals to the humanity showing how a man can get wealthy and powerful having risen from poverty, what rights women have, and how difficult it is for people to survive in the contemporary world.  

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