The Good Earth Chapter 24
One day, the eldest son tells Wang Lung that he wishes to go south to attend a greater school. Unwilling to send his son south, Wang Lung forbids him to go, but the son is determined to get away from the watchful eyes of his father. Looking at his son and then at himself, Wang Lung is painfully aware of the differences between the two of them. His son has grown into a fine-looking, smooth young man, and Wang Lung is a farmer, earth-stained and dark. Wang Lung is suddenly contemptuous of his son's looks and angrily shouts at his son to get out on the fields.
Although the locusts have destroyed a lot of the crops, Wang Lung is still able to make a lot of gold and silver from selling his harvest. Wang Lung is proud to have Lotus as his mistress because she becomes lovelier with the lapsing of time. O-lan, on the other hand, has grown haggard over the years, saying that there is a "fire in [her] vitals." One night, O-lan tells Wang Lung that the first son goes to see Lotus too often when he is away, and that it is better to send the son south so he would not be near Lotus. At first, Wang Lung thinks that O-lan is jealous and laughs the idea away, but soon is forced to think about it seriously when at night, Lotus does not yield to him, complaining about his smells. Wang Lung thinks that it was strange that Lotus had known the son's desire to go away.
The next day, he pretends to go out, but when he soon returns, he sees his son with Lotus in the inner court. Wang Lung feels a swelling of anger, and it "[is] the anger of one man against another man who steals away the loved woman." Chapter 24, pg. 175. Tearing away a piece of bamboo from the grove, he goes into the inner court to lash at his son, beating him until blood comes dripping down. He beats the son until he is satisfied, and sends the son to his own room. After sitting down to think for awhile in the courtyard, Wang Lung decides to send the boy south. Physically and emotionally weary, Wang Lung goes out to his fields to seek consolation.