Chapter 17 Notes from The Good Earth

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The Good Earth Chapter 17

Now Wang Lung owns a lot of land. Ching, upon Wang Lung's suggestion, sells his small piece of land to come live with him. Ching and Wang Lung plant rice in the fields that have had much rain and Wang Lung hires two workers for the harvest. Remembering the young lords of the House of Hwang, Wang Lung sets his two sons to work in the fields. O-lan, however, does not work in the fields because Wang Lung can afford laborers. Wang Lung expands his fortune and enlarges his house.

Soon, it is time for O-lan to give birth again. This time, she gives birth to twins-a daughter and a son. Although he is happy for the birth of the newborn children, he is sad because of his eldest daughter, who does not do anything befitting a child of her age. She smiles like a baby, but never says a word. Wang Lung calls her his "poor fool."

Although famines always come once in awhile, Wang Lung seeks to establish himself safely enough to never have to go south again. For seven years, Wang Lung amasses his fortune. Soon, he has six men working for him and builds a new house near the old one for the family.

Although a silent and timid man, Ching proves himself loyal and honest to Wang Lung, overseeing all the laborers and working diligently on behalf of Wang Lung. Ching and Wang Lung are like brothers.

By the fifth year, Wang Lung feels the shame of being illiterate. Although a prosperous landowner, he is ignorant. One day, he decides to put the eldest son in school so that he may be a scholar, accompanying Wang Lung to grain markets to read and write for him. When the second son also insists on going, both sons are sent to school. After all the preparations have been made, the boys are arranged to attend a small school near the city gate kept by a schoolmaster who once failed the government examination. Taking the boys to school on the first day, Wang Lung is filled with pride. At school, the schoolmaster gives the boys school names. The eldest son is named Nun En, and the second son is named Nung Wen. "Nung" means "one whose wealth is from the earth."

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