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Chapter 29 Notes from The Good Earth

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The Good Earth Chapter 29

Once he has made up his mind, Wang Lung wants everything to be arranged quickly. He tells his eldest son to arrange the matter of renting the house and sends for his second son to help with the moving. After Lotus, Cuckoo, and the slaves are moved, Wang Lung's eldest son, his wife, and their servants are moved. Wang Lung is reluctant to leave his land immediately and keeps his youngest son by his side. When it is finally time for him to go, he cannot easily part with the land. He tells his sons to prepare his court in the house and decides to move whenever he wishes to go. He decides to take his poor fool with him when the time comes because no one else will take care of her. Wang Lung decides to move when the second son's marriage affairs have all been settled because he wishes to be near Ching who is arranging the matter.

In the house, Wang Lung is left with his third son, the fool, Ching, the uncle's family, and the laborers. The uncle and his wife move into the quarters where Lotus used to live, but Wang Lung does not mind because he sees that his uncle will soon die. Ching and the workers live in the outer rooms, and Wang Lung and his family live in the middle rooms with a servant.

Wang Lung asks Ching to look into the matter of his second son's marriage. Ching has become old and gaunt, but he is still an honest man who faithfully serves Wang Lung. After having looked around the area for a suitable maid for the second son, Ching comes back to tell Wang Lung about a maid who lives three villages away. After Wang Lung has approved of the match and signed the papers, the matter is arranged and the wedding day is set.

With Ching having become too old and his third son still too young to take care of land matters, Wang Lung rents out some of his land to people who are more than willing to be his tenants. After renting his land out, Wang Lung does not have much to do. Although he spends most of his time at the new house in town, "when day came back he was back upon his land...And he smelled the fresh smell of the fields and when he came to his own land, he rejoiced in it." Chapter 29, pg. 215

Topic Tracking: Earth 20

One day, as though the gods are being good to Wang Lung, the uncle's son who has long been restless after all the women have been moved out, decides to go to a war in the north. Wang Lung pretends to be reluctant, but gives him some silver to prepare for the journey. After he has gone, there seems to be peace at last in the house.

Wang Lung spends more and more time in his town house as the birth of his grandchild approaches. Looking at his life in retrospect, Wang Lung is proud and happy to have come so far. He adopts a stylish, extravagant life style of silk clothes and good food.

One day, Wang Lung is awakened by the groans of his daughter-in-law at labor. He is suddenly frightened, as he has never been for many years. He promises the "goddess of mercy" at the temple in town a new robe if his grandchild turns out to be a male child. Still agitated, Wang Lung buys more incense to visit the two earth gods at the temple of the earth in the middle of the field. He threatens the god and his lady that there will be nothing for them if his grandchild is not a boy.

Topic Tracking: Women 13
Topic Tracking: God 9

Near the night, Lotus comes to tell Wang Lung that a grandson has been born. Wang Lung is happy and thinks of the time when his first son was born. O-lan had gone into the small room by herself, not willing to have anyone with her at the time of her birth. The wife of the eldest son, Wang Lung thinks, is rather fussy to have everyone running around for her. Thinking of the time when O-lan breastfed the son, Wang Lung is sad to hear that a nursemaid will have to be found for the grandson because the daughter-in-law cannot nurse her own baby.

A month after the child's birth, the eldest son holds a birth feast, inviting guests and dying hundreds of eggs to distribute to the guests. After the feast, at the eldest son's suggestion, tablets of ancestors are set up with the names of Wang Lung's grandfather and his father. There is space left for Wang Lung's name after he dies and the names of his sons. After this, Wang Lung remembers the promise he made to the goddess of mercy for a new robe and goes to town to give the money for it.

On his way back home, Wang Lung is informed by a worker that Ching is dying. Wang Lung curses the earth gods because he thinks that they are jealous that he gave a red robe to the town goddess.

Topic Tracking: God 10

The laborers tell Wang Lung that Ching was teaching a newly hired farmer the right way of holding the flail, but it was too much on the old man. When the men bring the newly hired laborer before Wang Lung, he beats the country boy over the head until he hears Ching moaning. Ching soon dies, and Wang Lung weeps for his old, faithful friend. Despite the protests of his sons, Wang Lung buys him a nice coffin and wears white mourning. He wishes to bury Ching where O-lan and his father are buried, but the sons protest forcefully. Wang Lung gives over to burying Ching by the entrance to the wall because Ching has always been a protector to him against evil.

Wang Lung is too sad to go see his lands without Ching. Although he does not ever think of selling his lands, he rents all of them out to tenants. Leaving his uncle and his wife to the care of one of his laborers, Wang Lung permanently moves into the town house, rarely coming to the house on the land.

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