Notes on The Good Earth Themes

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The Good Earth Topic Tracking: God

Chapter 1

God 1: As a humble farmer, Wang Lung relies on the good favor of the Earth God and his mistress. On the day of his marriage, Wang Lung takes O-lan to the temple where they burn incense and stand before the gods to pay respects.

Chapter 4

God 2: Wang Lung is extremely happy when his first son is born, but he is afraid of the "malignant" spirits in the air who might undermine his happiness. Thus, he pays a visit to the Earth God and his mistress. He seems to believe that they wield much power and that they can provide protection for him and his family. It comforts him to know that the Earth God and his lady are there.

Chapter 5

God 3: Wang Lung always remembers the Earth God and his mistress. When the New Year approaches, his father makes a new robe for the couple, and Wang Lung burns incense before them.

Chapter 9

God 4: Wang Lung attributes everything that happens to him to the Earth God and his lady. When the famine hits and the family suffers, Wang Lung blames the Earth God, attributing it to his cold-heartedness.

Chapter 15

God 5: After having endured through the famine, Wang Lung and his family come home, returning to the land. Although Wang Lung felt that the gods turned their backs on him, he does not forget to see the Earth God and his mistress upon arrival. He still blames them for what he has had to endure, scolding them.

God 6: Even after having scolded the gods for having been wicked to humans during the difficult period of the famine, Wang Lung still acknowledges and pays due reverence to the power they have over earth. He tells himself to place an incense before the two figurines at the temple because they have power over earth.

Chapter 23

God 7: Wang Lung is not the only one in the village who relies on the power of the Earth God. When the locusts threaten to destroy the crops, women visit the Earth God to pray for the safety of the fields.

Chapter 27

God 8: As Wang Lung expands his fortunes, he becomes increasingly confident and careless. He disregards the power of the Earth God and his lady. When Ching tells him that there will be a flood soon, Wang Lung complains that he has never had any luck from the Earth God and his lady. He is unappreciative of the good fortune that the Earth God has bestowed on him earlier. When Ching implores him not to speak about the gods that way, Wang Lung dismisses Ching.

Chapter 29

God 9: Despite Wang Lung's carelessness, when the birth of his grandchild approaches, he is so desperate and anxious that he pays a visit to the Earth God and his mistress. Instead of imploring, however, he threatens them to give him a grandson.

God 10: Wang Lung is bitter and resentful toward the Earth God when he learns that Ching is dying. He thinks that the Earth God and his mistress, jealous of the town goddess to whom he has given a new robe, are intentionally wreaking havoc in his life.

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