Chapter 8 Notes from The Good Earth

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The Good Earth Chapter 8

It is as though the gods have decided to ignore Wang Lung because it does not rain when it should. The earth dries up, and the plants dry up. O-lan tells Wang Lung that if the family is to have any water, the fields must be left dry. He cries aloud in despair: "Well and [the children] must all starve if the plants starve." Chapter 8, pg. 48

Topic Tracking: Earth 4

The only land that survives is the one by the moat that Wang Lung concentrates his energy into keeping alive. He sells his crops as soon as he is able to harvest them and takes the silver to buy more land from the House of Hwang, which is on the brink of ruin. The Old Mistress continually yearns for expensive opium, and the Old Lord is constantly taking in young concubines. The young lords are careless with money. Thus, when Wang Lung comes with money to buy land, the agent of the family is more than eager. The newly bought land is twice as big as the first plot that Wang Lung bought from the family.

Autumn comes, and still there is no rain. Wang Lung continues working in his fields, garnering whatever produce he can manage to reap. The two boys also work with their parents. In the house, there is a general fear of starvation, but the girl child is kept full by O-lan's breast milk. Soon, however, O-lan is again with child, and there is no milk for the baby girl.

Before long, there is no more rice or wheat left, and the old man suggests that Wang Lung's ox be eaten. Wang Lung initially protests because the ox has been a companion to him from his youth while he worked in the fields. When the children cry for food, however, he finally relents. O-lan cuts the ox's neck and cooks the flesh for the family to eat.

In the village, there is a rising hostility against Wang Lung because people think that he is hiding silver and food. Wang Lung's uncle, resentful that Wang Lung will not give him any more food than he has already given, begins spreading rumors in the village that Wang Lung has silver and food, but will share with none. One day, some angry villagers break into Wang Lung's house, determined to loot. When they see that he has no more than they do, they are disappointed. When they start seizing Wang Lung's pieces of furniture, O-lan bravely comes forward to stop them. The men are ashamed and begin to leave. Ching, who is one of these men, leaves quickly in shame because he has grabbed some beans. Wang Lung now has nothing to feed his family, but comforts himself with the thought of his land. He thinks to himself: "They cannot take the land away from me. The labor of my body and the fruit of the fields I have put into that which cannot be taken away. If I had the silver, they would have taken it. If I had bought with the silver to store it, they would have taken it all. I have the land still, and it is mine." Chapter 8, pg. 53

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