The Good Earth
Pearl S. Buck
Contributed by Bobbie Heil
Themes
Themes are described as ideas that dominate a particular piece of literature. In almost all cases, pieces of literature will be centered a theme or a number of them.

Wang Lung is a poor farmer who struggles to keep his family upright during several difficult years. After marrying a servant from a wealthy family in town, he is blessed with a short streak of fortune. However, the bad luck continues, and in one unfortunate year, the situation is so bad that the family has to move to the south in order to survive. There, they manage with difficulty to get by, until one day, a riot ensues and in the confusion, Wang procures a stash of gold. With the money, Wang and his family return to their land and begin adding to their holdings. Their stability grants Wang an excess of free time, which he spends at the town tea house. There he meets his mistress who he takes home with him to wed. His household continues to expand with the addition of servants and the children of his own children, so that soon, Wang is head of one of the richest families in town. Despite his wealth, Wang’s problems continue. His greedy uncle comes to live with him; his children quarrel incessantly; his father does not approve of his mistress; his first wife finds fault with the addition of the second; and much more. Wang, however, feels that he has succeeded in providing for his family and he attributes his success to the richness and permanency of the land. His sons do not concur and they make plans to sell the land after their father’s death, which saddens Wang greatly.

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