The Good Earth Chapter 14
In spring, those who begged everyday can now go out to the hills to find food. O-lan does the same with the boys. Wang Lung works as hard as he has done before, but the warmth of the days and the rains make everyone restless and dissatisfied. During the evening, people gather outside the huts to talk. Although he listens, Wang Lung feels that he does not belong to this group of men because he has his land waiting for him back home. Always conscious of this, Wang Lung is reluctant to cast himself with these weary, poor men who labor endlessly everyday. "[Wang Lung] belonged to the land and he could not live with any fullness until he felt the land under his feet and followed a plow in the springtime and bore a scythe in his hand at harvest." Chapter 14, pg. 87
One day, as the men are sitting around discussing what they would do if they had any money, Wang Lung says that he will buy land from which to reap harvests. The men ridicule him and laugh at him, but Wang Lung is steadfast in his resolution.
The city itself is restless. In the streets, there are people who constantly give out fliers. Wang Lung cannot read them, but he is given them twice. Once, a Westerner gives him a paper with a picture of Jesus Christ hanging from the cross. Although Wang Lung cannot understand what the flier says, he is frightened of the picture. A young, well-dressed city man who cries out to the crowd that "the rich and the capitalists" are killing them, gives another paper. Although initially interested, Wang Lung soon turns away because the man disregards the matter of the land. To Wang Lung, there is always the land. "Money and food are eaten and gone, and if there is not sun and rain in proportion, there is again hunger." Chapter 14, pg. 90
From the men who gather outside the huts to talk, Wang Lung learns that there lives a rich man behind the wall. The people in the huts are resentful of the injustice of never having anything that others have in abundance. Only Wang Lung is unaffected by this because he wants only his land.
One day, Wang Lung watches a man being seized by a group of soldiers in the street. Realizing that they are all commoners like himself, he quickly hides. Later, from the keeper of a shop, he learns that common laborers are being seized by the army to carry weapons and bedding for a war. Terrified, Wang Lung quickly comes back home. He is tempted to sell his daughter to get back to the land, but O-lan tells him to wait for several more days as there is strange talk everywhere.
Wang Lung does not work as a ricksha puller any longer, but at night, pulls cargo for the houses of merchandise. During the day, he sleeps inside the hut. When the city is increasingly filled with fear and unrest, Wang Lung cannot bear to stay in the city any longer, continually yearning for the land.
Inside the hut, Wang Lung hears soldiers marching outside. It is said that because of the approaching enemy, those who own anything are frightened, but Wang Lung and his family who have nothing are not scared. One day, Wang Lung is told to stop coming to the houses of merchandise, and the public kitchen closes. There is no one to beg from in the streets. Although he is tempted to sell his daughter again, he cannot do it upon hearing that O-lan was beaten constantly in the House of Hwang.
Suddenly, there is a great noise that frightens Wang Lung and the rest of the family. They hear a rising roar filling the streets, and a great door being opened. A man tells them: "The hour has come-the gates of the rich man are open to us!" Chapter 14, pg. 97. O-lan is soon gone, and Wang Lung also goes out. There is a crowd of commoners, pushing against the gates of the great house to enter. Wang Lung is swept along the crowd into the house and through the many courts. People take different treasures of the rich, snatching and pushing. Wang Lung, the only one in the crowd who does not take anything, is thoroughly bewildered. Dragged along with the crowd, he finds himself in the back of the innermost court of the house. Wang Lung sees a big, middle-aged, well-dressed man who has not yet escaped who pleads with Wang Lung to spare his life. Wang Lung threateningly demands money from the frightened man who eagerly gives him gold coins. Clutching the gold, Wang Lung returns home, telling himself that they will go back to the land tomorrow.