The Good Earth

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Wang Lung’s second daughter, the youngest son’s twin, is a pretty girl whom he marries to Liu’s son. She cares a lot about her appearance and carefully keeps her feet bound, because O-lan tells her that Wang Lung doesn’t care for her as his wife due to her ugliness. The second daughter mentions this to Wang Lung, and it makes him feel terribly guilty and pay more attention to O-lan. Wang Lung’s uncle’s son tries to molest the second daughter, leading Wang Lung to send her to Liu’s house until her marriage.

The second daughter Quotes in The Good Earth

The The Good Earth quotes below are all either spoken by The second daughter or refer to The second daughter. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Washington Square Press edition of The Good Earth published in 2004.
Chapter 25 Quotes

...[M]y mother said I was not to weep aloud because you are too kind and weak for pain and you might say to leave me as I am, and then my husband would not love me even as you do not love her.

Related Characters: The second daughter (speaker), Wang Lung, O-lan
Page Number: 249
Explanation and Analysis:

Wang Lung visits Liu and engages his second daughter to Liu’s son. When he returns home, he notices that his daughter has been crying, and she tells him that it’s because her bound feet hurt.

Foot binding was practiced in parts of China for centuries. Because small, dainty feet were considered beautiful, girls’ feet would be broken and bound tightly with cloth so that they could never grow large. O-lan’s feet were not bound, and when Wang Lung grows wealthy and thus picky, he criticizes her feet in particular. O-lan then binds her daughter’s feet in hopes that her daughter’s husband will love her more than she thinks Wang Lung loves her.

In this scene, his daughter’s uncomprehending honesty makes Wang Lung finally begin to realize the betrayal that he has practiced on O-lan. He has rejected her for her appearance rather than valuing her for her wisdom and faithfulness, and she’s so obedient that she doesn’t even try to make him see his wrongdoing. Instead, she puts her daughter through physical pain in the hopes that she can avoid the emotional pain that O-lan herself experiences.

Even as O-lan acts in reaction to Wang Lung’s cruelty, she still sees him as “kind and weak,” expecting him to stop the foot binding if he realizes how painful it is. Thus, she seems to blame herself for her ugliness, rather than blaming Wang Lung for his superficial judgment of her. O-lan experiences her society’s misogyny in all the worst ways, and yet she never seems to fight the wrongs done to her.

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The second daughter Character Timeline in The Good Earth

The timeline below shows where the character The second daughter appears in The Good Earth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 18
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...He mentions her feet, which he thinks are too big. O-lan says she’ll bind the younger daughter ’s feet. Wang Lung is angry that she’s frightened, and he decides to go to... (full context)
Chapter 19
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...she still has the pearls, and she hoped to make them into earrings for their younger daughter . Wang Lung replies that the girl’s skin isn’t light enough for pearls. He demands... (full context)
Chapter 25
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...Lung is satisfied. He asks happily whether Liu might have a son to marry his second daughter , and Liu says he does. The children are the same age, and the men... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
When Wang Lung returns home, he sees that his second daughter is pretty and has nicely bound feet. But he notices that she’s been crying, and... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...days, he sends his second son to his apprenticeship and makes the betrothal of the younger daughter official. He feels that he’s taken care of his children, and he’s proud of them. (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...guilty, though he tells himself he’s been good to her. He can’t forget what his second daughter said her mother had told her. (full context)
Chapter 26
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Before long, Wang Lung’s father dies in his sleep. The second daughter finds him in the morning and brings Wang Lung. Wang Lung prepares the body and... (full context)
Chapter 27
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Before long, Wang Lung’s uncle’s son begins to look at Wang Lung’s second daughter , who is very pretty. One night he grabs her and touches her breast, and... (full context)
Chapter 28
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
After Wang Lung sends his second daughter away, he offers his uncle the opium, pretending he’d bought it to help his father... (full context)
Chapter 34
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...plot and remembers those who he buried there, clearly recalling all of them and his second daughter whom he married away. He looks at the spot where he will be buried and... (full context)