Chapter 21 Notes from The Good Earth

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The Good Earth Chapter 21

Soon after the arrival of Lotus and Cuckoo, there is trouble in the house. O-lan and Cuckoo do not get along. O-lan and Cuckoo had both been slaves at the House of Hwang, but O-lan had been a mere kitchen slave, whereas Cuckoo had been the lord's favorite. Cuckoo did not treat O-lan very well at the great house, and O-lan is still bitter about it. To O-lan, living with Cuckoo is a painful insult.

As soon as Lotus and Cuckoo arrive, O-lan starts to show her dislike for the latter by refusing to leave any heated water for Cuckoo's use. Wang Lung talks to O-lan about it, but she is adamant, reminding him that he took away her pearls for Lotus. To pacify Cuckoo, Wang Lung has a new kitchen built, but the kitchen becomes a new source of problems for Wang Lung because Cuckoo spends too much money on food. Because he does not want to upset Lotus, however, Wang Lung cannot complain.

Furthermore, Lotus befriends the uncle's wife who spends most of her time in the inner court, eating the expensive foods. Wang Lung does not like the loud, shrewish wife of his uncle, and when he tries to get Lotus away from her, Lotus becomes peeved. He has no other choice but to leave the uncle's wife alone.

Because of all these troubles, Wang Lung's love for Lotus slackens. One day, Wang Lung's old father wakes up to see Lotus walking around in the court. He calls her a "harlot," and does not stop screaming. The old man soon grows a hatred for Lotus, doing childish things to her. Wang Lung cannot do anything about his elderly father, but Lotus becomes vexed.

Another day, Wang Lung hears Lotus shrieking. Running to her court, he sees his daughter and son with his eldest daughter, his "poor fool." Lotus had been repulsed when the poor fool approached her to grab her colorful robe. When Wang Lung comes running, Lotus accusingly points to his children and tells him that she will not tolerate them. Wang Lung, becoming angry, shouts back at Lotus because he is angry that she has called his children "idiots." Soon his anger melts away, but Wang Lung's love for Lotus is not as complete.

One day after the summer has ended, Wang Lung discovers that the water in his fields has receded. Suddenly, hearing his land calling him, he decides to go work on the land himself.

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