The Good Earth Chapter 34
As summer wears into autumn and turns into winter, Wang Lung's love for Pear Blossom gradually turns into a love of a father for a daughter. She is a comfort to him, serving him loyally and even being kind to his poor fool. One day, he tells Pear Blossom that when he dies, she should feed the poor fool a poison he purchased at the medicine shop, but Pear Blossom protests and assures Wang Lung that she will take care of the poor fool.
Wang Lung increasingly spends much of his time withdrawn in his courts with the poor fool and Pear Blossom. He worries that for Pear Blossom, it is too quiet and lonely, but she seems content and happy. He wonders why she hates young men, but unable to elicit any answers from her, gives up asking any questions.
Day by day, Wang Lung sits around in his room or lies sleeping in the sun as his old father once did. He knows that he is nearing the end of his life, but is satisfied. Sometimes, he goes to see Lotus who greets him courteously. When Wang Lung goes to see his sons and their families, they are also courteous, but one day, after feeling like an outsider in their courts, he goes to see them no longer. He occasionally asks Cuckoo about his family, and Cuckoo tells him all the news. The two wives of his sons are still fighting with one another, and the eldest son is looking to get a second wife. As for the third son, people who come from the south say that he has become a military official during the Revolution.
For Wang Lung, "still one thing [remains] to him and it [is] his love for his land. He [has] gone away from it and he [has] set up his house in a town and he [is] rich. But his roots [are] in his land and although he [forgets] it for many months together, when spring [comes] each year he must got out on to the land." Chapter 34, pg. 257
One day, walking over to the burial land, he remembers everyone he has buried there. He thinks that he shall be next and wishes to buy a coffin for himself. Returning home, he calls for his eldest son to tell him that he wishes to see his coffin. Although the eldest son protests outwardly, he buys a coffin made from a nice, fragrant, durable wood for his father, which comforts and pleases him. For the remaining days of his life, Wang Lung wishes to spend it in his old house on the land and takes his poor fool, Pear Blossom, and servants there to live out his life.
Spring wears away, and summer passes. It is now autumn. Wang Lung is now so old that he does not think much about anything except his food, his drink, and his land. When he holds his earth in his hands, Wang Lung is content. His sons visit him every so often to pay their respects. When they do not come, Wang Lung complains, but Pear Blossom tells him about them. The eldest son is an officer in the town among wealthy men, and he has gotten a second wife. The second son is going to have his own grain market. Wang Lung listens, but soon forgets all that she tells him.
One day, Wang Lung is unusually clear-headed. His sons have come to visit him, but after seeing their father, they go out to the land. Wang Lung is close behind them, listening silently. The sons, not knowing that Wang Lung is following them, talk of selling the land and dividing the money between themselves. When Wang Lung hears of selling the land, he breaks out in anger, crying: "Now evil, idle son-sell the land! It is the end of a family-when they begin to sell the land. Out of the land we came and into it we must go-if you will hold your land you can live-no one can rob you of land-if you sell the land, it is the end." Chapter 34, pg. 260
Wang Lung weeps hysterically, and his sons try to soothe him by assuring him that they will not sell the land. Holding the earth in his hand, Wang Lung cries. The sons repeat that they will not sell the land, but over Wang Lung's head, they look at each other and smile as though they are only humoring their old, feeble father.