The Good Earth Chapter 25
After the eldest son leaves, Wang Lung feels as though peace has finally come. Wang Lung decides to apprentice the second son at a shop before the boy becomes restless and moody like the older son. A small, short boy with sharp eyes, he is quite different from the eldest son. Wang Lung arranges a meeting with the grain merchant Liu to apprentice the son. When he visits Liu, Wang Lung sees that the family lives in prosperity, but not in excessive indulgence. He does not want a daughter-in-law who will be condescending toward the family of her husband.
When the two men meet, they bow to each other, liking and respecting each other. When Wang Lung brings up the subject of his second son and expresses his wish to have him apprenticed to Liu, Liu agrees. Pleased, Wang Lung mentions his second daughter, and the two men tentatively agree on arranging a union between the daughter and Liu's young son, for a "double rope."
Coming home, Wang Lung meets his second daughter who is a very pretty child with bound feet. When he looks at her closely, however, he sees that she has been crying because of her feet binding. It is so painful that she cannot sleep at night, but O-lan has told her not to say anything to Wang Lung because without bound feet, she would be unloved by her husband just as O-lan is unloved by Wang Lung. Wang Lung is astonished to hear this.
That night, he is unable to sleep at peace because he remembers what the second daughter told him. He is sad because it is the truth that he has never loved O-lan. Soon after, the second son is sent away for the apprenticeship, and the papers for the younger daughter's marriage are signed. Wang Lung decides to keep his third son for the land because it is sufficient to have two sons who can read and write.
After having settled his children's matters, taken care of the fields, and become accustomed to his life with Lotus, he now has time to notice O-lan who has grown old and thin. He also notices that O-lan is constantly in pain. He feels guilty about O-lan, but comforts himself with the thought that he has always been good to her, never beating her and always giving her the money she needed. But he cannot forget what his daughter told him as it continues to bother him. One day, Wang Lung asks O-lan what is wrong, but she can only answer that it is the "pain in [her] vitals." A doctor comes to look at O-lan, and he tells Wang Lung that O-lan will soon die. Back in his mind, Wang Lung also realizes that O-lan will die. After having paid for his medicine, Wang Lung goes into the kitchen where O-lan has lived most of her life to weep.