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Free Study Guide-The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck-Free Book Notes Summary
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CHAPTER 3

Summary

O-Lan refuses to have any help during her pregnancy and continues to work as always. When Wang Lung offers to bring a woman from the great house to assist her, O-Lan shows her anger at the suggestion. She then reveals her plans. When the child is born, she wishes to dress herself and the child in rich finery and go to the great house to show her son to the mistress. Amazed that she had thought this out all by herself, he gives her some silver to buy material for their clothes.

When the time comes, she silently closes herself in a room and goes through the pains of labor and childbirth alone. Wang Lung then realizes that his wife is very strong and very special. Even his own mother had help during childbirth. O-Lan finally emerges from her labor and presents her husband with a son. Wang Lung is filled with strong emotion as soon as he lays his eyes on his first- born, especially since it's a boy. He decides to announce his son's birth by distributing eggs, dyed red, amongst the villagers.


Notes

In this chapter, more information about the Chinese culture is revealed. In China, the birth of a boy-child is important. A boy will grow up to take care of his family, tend to the fields, and bring forth more sons to continue the lineage of the family. By contrast, the girl-child has little value; she must be protected from other men, must be given a dowry before she can marry, and is more of a burden than anything else. A family that has only daughters is considered to be cursed and disgraced. Wang is obviously delighted that his first-born is a son. The frugal man, who seldom displays emotion, decides he will distribute red eggs to the villagers to announce his son and express his joy.

O-Lan's character is more fully developed when she shows pride and strength during pregnancy. She continues to perform all her usual chores and refuses to take any help from the great house where she has been a slave. She goes through labor and childbirth alone and cleans the room before emerging with her son. She reveals she is ambitious when she dreams of dressing herself and her baby in fine clothes and showing him off at the great house.

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