The Good Earth Chapter 13
Throughout the city, wealth and abundance prevail, but Wang Lung's family and many others in the village of huts live in poverty, unable to participate in any of the luxuries of the city, working at the service of the rich. The children steal whenever they can, but the old people are more accepting of their circumstances. Among the young people, there is anger and discontent. They work all their lives only to be living on the fringes of poverty, barely able to feed themselves. It is late winter and spring approaches. O-lan is again with child and leaves the daughter to the old man's care while she begs.
One day, Wang Lung reminds his father of the land. The father understands his son's yearning for the land because he has also had to leave it during hard times. But the father tells Wang Lung that he always returned to the land.
Wang Lung, determined, says to himself that they will also return. He returns to the hut depressed, and O-lan tells him that it is possible to return if they would only sell the girl child. Wang Lung is astonished to hear this, but O-lan says that her parents also sold her during a difficult time.
The temptation is great to Wang Lung, but looking at his poor daughter, he cannot do it. As he sits outside the hut, bemoaning his miserable circumstances, he is joined by another man from a nearby hut who tells him that Wang Lung is not the only one suffering. He has had to sell some of his daughters last winter to provide for his family.
The man says that "when the rich are too rich there are ways, and when the poor are too poor there are ways...and that way will come soon." Chapter 13, pg. 84. According to the man, there are jewels, servants, money, and food in abundance behind the gray wall. At night, Wang Lung has trouble sleeping, thinking of all the things that lie beyond the wall. He considers selling his daughter, but cannot reach a decision. He does not see a way out of this bleak life in the city.