Chapter 20 Notes from The Good Earth

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The Good Earth Chapter 20

Wang Lung's uncle suddenly returns with his son and his wife. Now a wealthy man, Wang Lung cannot turn his elderly relatives out of the house because he would lose face in the village where he has been gaining respect.

Upon arrival, the uncle's shrewd wife learns that Wang Lung is "mad over another woman." Overhearing the uncle's wife talking to O-lan, Wang Lung suddenly gets the idea that he will buy Lotus to bring her to the house so she can always be with him. He asks the uncle's wife to arrange the union of himself and Lotus.

Wang Lung does not go to the teahouse until he sees the matter settled. Impatient, he continually instructs the uncle's wife who is more than confident that she will be able to settle the matter successfully. Wang Lung harangues O-lan with sweeping, washing, cleaning, and moving furniture for Lotus' arrival. He has an additional court built to the house where he will be able to spend time with Lotus. He and the uncle's wife decorate Lotus' room. During all of this, he is impatient and nervous, letting his frustration out on the children and O-lan. One day, when O-lan is unable to bear any longer, she weeps, telling him: "I have borne you sons-I have borne you sons." Chapter 20, pg. 140.

One day, the uncle's wife tells him that the matter has been completed. Cuckoo will come for a hundred pieces of silver, and Lotus is to have jewels, silk clothes, and shoes. Wang Lung is relieved and happy to see the end of the matter. After giving the uncle's wife some money for settling it, Wang Lung awaits Lotus' arrival.

On an August day, Lotus comes riding in a sedan chair, followed by Cuckoo who comes as her serving woman. Wang Lung and the uncle's wife lead Lotus into her court. The house is empty because Ching and the rest of the workers are in the fields, and O-lan has gone out with the little children. The two sons are in school, and the father has become so old, hearing and seeing nothing.

At night, O-lan returns, but says nothing. She prepares food as she always does, eats with the children, and goes into the room to sleep alone.

Lotus never comes outside, but lies in her room. Cuckoo and Lotus both live in the separate court newly made by Wang Lung. Wang Lung visits her every night in her quarters, [eating] and [drinking] of his love...[feasting] alone." Chapter 20, pg. 144.

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