Pagliei 1 In the critically acclaimed novel The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck depicts a humble farmer and his obedient wife O-lan. The Nobel Prize winning classic, set in late eighteenth century China, begins with Wang Lung going to the "Great House of Hwang"(49) to collect the wife that was betrothed to him by his father. Wang Lung lived with his father, wife, and five children, one of whom is mentally retarded. Although Wang Lung supplied all the physical needs for his family and upheld all the family traditions, he showed a strong insensitivity through his extra marital affairs. The story continues to portray the trials and tribulations of their life in a time when a persons livelihood came from the earth. From the earth, Wang Lung receives wealth, food, and prosperity. The earth also brought him dispair through natural disasters, but the earth remained his sole source of innerpeace. Wang Lung was sometimes caring and sometimes insensitive, but he always followed tradition. Wang Lung was a caring and compassionate man with a strong sense of family and adaptation to simple life. For example, Wang Lung showed extreme respect and appreciation for his wife in a time when women were considered to be no more then slaves. In the early chapters of the novel when Wang Lung was poor, he gave O-lan four silver pieces so she may return to the House of Hwang in grand style. He also offered to pay five thousand silver pieces for her recovery after he discovered she had a "fire in her vitals"(170). He then spent the rest of her days by her death bed and bought her the best quality coffin. Furthermore, Wang Lung had a special relationship with his first daughter, Poor Fool, his mentally retarded offspring. Poor Fool did not speak and did nothing more Pagliei 2 then twiddle a piece of cloth in the sun. Although Wang Lung had servants and slaves, he personally took care of his daughter after O-lan died. He also yelled at his love Lotus when she called Poor Fool an idiot: Now I will not hear my children cursed, no and not by anyone...For he was most angry of all that Lotus dared to curse this child of his and call her idiot, and a load of fresh pain for the girl fell upon his heart, so that for a day and two days he would not go near Lotus, but he played with the children and he went into the town and he bought a circle of barley candy for his poor fool and he comforted himself with her baby pleasure in the sweet sticky stuff.(212) His affection for Poor Fool was genuine and he was comforted when she was happy; "Well, and that poor fool of mine brings me more comfort then all the others put together" (234). Another example of Wang Lung's caring is the time and love he put into his land. When his life was in shambles and nothing else made sense, he found innerpeace, tranquillity and understanding about the events in his life when he was out tending to his land. When he had extra money, he did not want pearls, concubines, or rubies, "If I had the gold and the silver and the jewels, I would buy land with it, good land, and I would bring forth harvests from the land" (124). Wang Lung's caring nature was the foundation for a stable family. Although it was rarely displayed, Wang Lung's heartlessness and sheer cruelty deeply scarred the most beloved members in his family. For instance, Wang Lung's Pagliei 3 infatuation with Lotus temporarily blinds his true love for O-lan. Instead of the caring husband O-lan grew to love he was mean and he assaulted her with insults about her lack of beauty and highlighted her extremely large features: He saw for the first time that her hair was rough and brown and unoiled and that her face was flat and coarse-skinned, and her features too large altogether and without any sort of beauty or light. Her eyebrows were scattered and her hairs too few, and her lips too wide and her hands and feet were large and spreading...I would have my wife look less