Chapter 32 Notes from The Good Earth

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The Good Earth Chapter 32

After the soldiers leave, Wang Lung and his sons bring in workers to repair the house. Wang Lung orders the slave who carries the child of his cousin to look after the uncle's wife. The slave gives birth only to a girl, which is a relief because if it had been a boy, she would have claimed a place in the family for her son.

Topic Tracking: Women 15

Wang Lung tells the slave that she will be able to get the room of the uncle's wife after her death. When he gives her money, the slave asks Wang Lung to keep it as dowry and to wed her to a farmer. Wang Lung agrees to do this after the death of the uncle's wife and thinks that a man will come to get this slave just as he had once come to the great house to get O-lan.

One morning, the slave comes to tell Wang Lung that the uncle's wife has died. Wang Lung thinks of a suitable man for the slave, and can only remember the farmer who received a beating from him for causing the death of Ching. He sends for the man, and when he comes, Wang Lung, seated on a dais in the hall, speaks to them both. The man is more than happy to take the woman because he is too poor to wed anyone else. When Wang Lung comes down from the dais, he feels that "his life [is] rounded off and he [has] done all that he said he would in his life and more than he could ever have dreamed he could." Chapter 32, pg. 241. At this point, Wang Lung is close to sixty-five years old and has five grandsons. It seems to him that there is nothing else to trouble him in his old age.

But peace is elusive because the wife of the eldest son and the wife of the second son do not get along, having grown to hate each other as a result of small quarrels. The hatred between these two women is worsened by the lack of love between the two brothers. The eldest son resents the fact that the second brother looks after all the monetary affairs of the house, and the second brother does not approve of the older brother's extravagant life style and spending.

Wang Lung himself has a problem of his own with which to grapple. Since he rescued the small slave Pear Blossom from falling into the hands of the lustful cousin, Lotus dislikes the maid and is jealous of her. One day, she accuses Wang Lung of looking at the girl. Although Wang Lung has not looked at the girl, he begins to look after Lotus brings it up. He sees that the girl is indeed very pretty, and "something [stirs] in his old blood that [has] been quiet these ten years and more." Chapter 32, pg. 243.

Wang Lung's youngest son is also a source of trouble. When the soldiers were at the house, the boy had listened to their glorious war stories in fascination. Now, he wishes to become a soldier. Angry and astonished, Wang Lung forbids it, trying to coax the boy. Wang Lung says that it is disgraceful to have a soldier for a son, but the son talks of fighting, revolution, and freedom. Wang Lung tries to change the son's mind by promising a wife, but the boy says that a woman will not do. When Wang Lung asks if there is a slave he wants, the boy unwillingly and timidly mentions Pear Blossom. Suddenly, Wang Lung, looking at his youthful son, feels jealous. He angrily tells him to keep off the slaves, as he will not tolerate the corrupt ways of young lords in his household. The boy also becomes angry, storming out of the room and leaving Wang Lung confused and weary of the constant problems in his house. He is angry and jealous because he secretly wants to have Pear Blossom for himself.

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