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Free Study Guide-The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck-Free Book Notes Summary
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CHAPTER 2

Summary

It is a luxury to have a woman in the house to do all the domestic chores; both Wang Lung and his father are pleased, for O-Lan is a hard worker. She rises in the morning, serves hot water to her father-in-law, makes tea for her husband, and prepares the meals. Then she sweeps the floor, gathers fuel, mends their clothes, and washes the bedding. She accomplishes her chores without speaking a word. She simply moves about steadily and silently with a half- fearful look in her eyes.

After a few months, O-Lan claims there is not enough work to do in the small house; therefore, she starts helping Wang in the fields as well. As always, she works silently and tirelessly as she tends the earth. One day, after working in the fields, O-Lan informs her husband that she is pregnant. Wang Lung is ecstatic, but, as is proper, he hides his feelings. The thought of a child arising out of his own loins, however, fills him with joy.

Notes

This chapter reveals O-Lan's capabilities. She is a woman of great resource, and Wang Lung quickly realizes that his wife's abilities totally outbalance her lack of beauty. For Wang Lung, having his own woman is a new wonder; ironically, he feels a bit disappointed that she does not outwardly show any feelings. But when she brings water with tea leaves in it for him, he feels pleased and exults in the thought that "this woman of mine likes me well enough."


When Wang Lung and O-Lan are in the field, they work with a perfectly symmetrical movement. It is as if they become one with the earth "which formed their home and fed their bodies and made their gods." After a hard day in the field, O-Lan seems to be a part of the earth itself, with her face wet with perspiration and body streaked with dirt.

It is important to note O-Lan's demeanor throughout the chapter. Without complaint, she does her chores, cooks the meals, and serves the men in silence, as is expected. There is, however, a half- fearful look in her eyes, a hint that O-Lan is not totally comfortable with her role. When she announces her pregnancy to Wang, she is very simple and unemotional about it. In contrast, Wang's heart swells with happiness and pride; but as custom dictates, he cannot express his joy openly.

By the end of the second chapter, Pearl Buck has already revealed much about the Chinese lifestyle and customs through the actions and words of the Chinese characters she has placed in the novel. Her style of writing and the characters that she develops are so simple and clear that the book almost seems to be a non-fiction report on Chinese culture.

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