Chapter 18 Notes from The Good Earth

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The Good Earth Chapter 18

During the seventh year, the lands are flooded. Wang Lung is not alarmed, however, because there is enough in the storage for the family to survive and his house is built on a hill. But the lands cannot be worked; Wang Lung is idle and restless, never having anything to do. His old father is frustrating because he never completely understands how wealthy Wang Lung has become. The eldest daughter does nothing but give her baby smiles. When he looks at O-lan, he notices her unkempt hair, and her flat, coarse face. "And it [seems] to Wang Lung that he [is looking] at O-lan for the first time in his life and he [sees] for the first time that she [is] a woman whom no man [can] call other than she was, a dull and common creature, who [plods] in silence without thought of how she [appears] to others." Chapter 18, pg. 121. Bearing his gaze, O-lan is painfully self-conscious, but Wang Lung is not satisfied. Soon, he is ashamed for scolding his faithful wife, but cannot rid himself of the irritation he feels. When in a rush of anger, he mentions O-lan's unbound feet, O-lan murmurs an apology: "My mother did not bind them, since I was sold so young. But the girls' feet I will bind-the younger girl's feet I will bind." Chapter 18, pg.122.

Topic Tracking: Women 10

Wang Lung becomes increasingly irritated and rushes out of the house. Because he has become a wealthy landowner, Wang Lung does not seem to see things as they were before. Things are not good enough for him. Wandering around the streets, Wang Lung spots a newly opened teashop where there are pictures of women hanging up on the walls. Initially, Wang Lung is timid, going in everyday to drink tea and staring at the pictures of the beautiful women. One day, however, he meets Cuckoo who has become the keeper of the shop. At her suggestion, Wang Lung carefully examines the pictures and picks "one most beautiful, a small, slender thing, a body light as a bamboo and a little face as pointed as a kitten's face, and one hand clasping the stem of a lotus flower in bud, and the hand as delicate as the tendril of fern uncurled." Chapter 18, pg. 126. Catching himself, Wang Lung is embarrassed and quickly exits the teahouse, but he cannot help the feelings surging up within him.

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