The Good Earth
Pearl S. Buck
Contributed by Bobbie Heil
Chapter Summaries
Timeline
Chapter Summaries Table
Chapter Summary
Chapter 1

The setting is rural China in the early 1900s. The poor farmer Wang Lung and his father have lived alone in a small house since his mother passed a...

Chapter 2

The next morning, Wang wakes and instructs his wife to bring his father some hot water. While she is gone, he wonders if she even likes him. He is ...

Chapter 3

As the date of the imminent birth nears, Wang Lung suggests that O-lan get a friend to help her deliver the baby. O-lan refuses, and when Wang Lung...

Chapter 4

The next day, Wang Lung goes into town to buy eggs and red paper to celebrate his son’s birth. Though he is boastful of his good fortune, he quic...

Chapter 5

The family celebrates the New Year. Wang pastes good luck squares on his farm equipment and makes new dresses for the gods. O-lan prepares exquisit...

Chapter 6

Wang succeeds in negotiating the purchase of the land from the Hwang family, but he has preliminary regrets since working the land is arduous and a...

Chapter 7

Wang sees his uncombed girl cousin one day and is shocked that her family has not molded her to become a worthy bride. He goes to his uncle’s hou...

Chapter 8

Wang Lung’s bad luck continues, and he feels like the gods have turned against him permanently. The summer rains fail to come, and the earth rema...

Chapter 9

The family is in dire straits, and their emaciated bodies reveal the reality of the food shortage. One day, Wang even takes out his frustration by ...

Chapter 10

The family begins their sad procession from their house, in search of food in the south. Through the cold and harsh winds, they persevere. Wang car...

Chapter 11

With the money from the sale of his furniture, Wang buys passage for a hundred miles of road and some food to eat as they ride on the train. Wang a...

Chapter 12

The days pass and the family grows familiar with their routine: begging on the streets, pulling the ricksha, and eating rice in the morning. Wang l...

Chapter 13

As the days progress, Wang sees the dire poverty in which his family is stuck. Men who slave in the city bakeries do not even earn enough to purcha...

Chapter 14

It is spring, and O-lan and the boys head to the countryside to scour for food they can get without begging and without money. Wang continues to wo...

Chapter 15

The family has returned to the land. With the gold, Wang buys diverse stocks of seed from the south, an ox, and farm tools and equipment with which...

Chapter 16

One night, Wang discovers that O-lan has kept hidden an array of rich jewels stolen from the rich man’s house during the night of looting. Althou...

Chapter 17

Wang is now the owner of more land than he alone can tend, so he offers to employ Ching to assist him, and Ching agrees. The rains are so overflowi...

Chapter 18

Wang and his family continue to be so prosperous that even in the seventh year, when there are heavy rains that cause almost half of Wang’s land ...

Chapter 19

If the waters had receded at this time or something had occurred to occupy his thoughts back home, Wang might have forgotten about the tea house, b...

Chapter 20

One day, Wang’s uncle returns suddenly and appears at the house. Politely, Wang offers him a meal, on which his uncle feasts heartily and after w...

Chapter 21

The arrival of Cuckoo causes great conflict with O-lan, who deplores her from their days in the House of Hwang. Wang is surprised, since he expects...

Chapter 22

Wang’s love problems seem to be resolved as his attentions turn to the land. He is rejuvenated by the rich smell of the earth, and he is quick to...

Chapter 23

Wang seeks Lotus for advice on the matter regarding his son. Lotus, although disappointed that Wang no longer pays as much attention to her, has ta...

Chapter 24

One day, when Wang is under the illusion of peace in the house, his eldest son asks him if he can go south to continue his studies as a scholar in ...

Chapter 25

When his son is gone, Wang is relieved to lose one of his problems and subsequently turns his attentions to his second son. Wang decides to take th...

Chapter 26

O-lan lays dying for several months. Her illness makes Wang and the entire family realize how important she was in the smooth running of their live...

Chapter 27

After the preparations for the wedding and funerals have passed, Wang is now free to mind the land and Ching tells him that it looks to be a floodi...

Chapter 28

Wang presents the opium to his uncle, saying that the uncle should partake in it since he is more worthy than Wang to smoke the luxury drug. Wang...

Chapter 29

When the time to move arrives, Wang cannot bring himself to leave the land, and so only his sons and their families move into town. Wang, the young...

Chapter 30

Once again, Wang thinks that peace has arrived in his household, but soon enough, his eldest son complains that their courts are not suitable for a...

Chapter 31

All his life, Wang had never witnessed a war, only heard of it sometimes when men would leave to join the forces for reasons of poverty or restless...

Chapter 32

After the soldiers are gone, the family attempts to remove any trace of their presence by repairing the furniture, re-filling the pools, and re-pla...

Chapter 33

Wang cannot stop thinking about Pear Blossom, although he tries to convince himself that it is best to offer her to his youngest son. He reminds hi...

Chapter 34

Wang soon finds himself feeling no passion for Pear Blossom anymore, and he grows to love her now only as a father loves a daughter. He is glad to ...

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