The Good Earth

The Good Earth

The Good Earth Chapter 33 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Wang Lung begins to think only of Pear Blossom. One day he feels particularly lustful, and he considers walking out to his land, but is ashamed to let other people see him there. Instead he wanders around the courts, avoiding Lotus. He realizes that his youngest son and Pear Blossom are about the same age, whereas he’s almost seventy. He tells himself he should give Pear Blossom to his son, but can’t bear to do it. At night, he sits in his court in the dark.
Wang Lung knows that his land could help cure him of his lust and bring him back to himself as it has in the past, but now that he’s become so socially superior, he doesn’t think it’s fitting for him to go to the land. This attitude is exactly what caused the downfall of the Hwangs, as they became disconnected from their land.
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Pear Blossom passes the gate to Wang Lung’s court, and he calls her in. He holds on to her coat, thinking that he’s far too old for her. She senses his lust and kneels at his feet. She says she likes old men’s kindness, and when he says she should have a young man, she replies that they’re too fierce. He brings her into his room, though he’s content with only watching and touching her.
Though Wang Lung’s desire for such a young girl might be seen as inappropriate, this is actually the first time that he approaches a woman in a situation in which she can refuse his sexual advances. He believed he had a right to his wife’s body, and Lotus was a prostitute, so he thought his money gave him a right to her.
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Eventually Cuckoo realizes that Pear Blossom has become Wang Lung’s concubine, and she’s reminded of the Old Lord. Wang Lung tells her he’s not sure how it happened, and she says someone must tell Lotus. Wang Lung is afraid to do so and asks Cuckoo to tell her. Lotus is angry, but Cuckoo tells her that Wang Lung will buy her whatever she wants, and she orders Pear Blossom and Wang Lung to keep away from her. Wang Lung is happy with this arrangement.
The Old Lord’s excessive number of concubines contributed to the fall of his family’s fortunes, and now Wang Lung is imitating the Hwangs in this respect as well. Lotus sees Wang Lung’s love of Pear Blossom as a betrayal, just as O-lan saw his love of Lotus as one. However, Lotus is more easily bought off.
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Wang Lung is ashamed to tell his sons about Pear Blossom. The second son comes to talk about the harvest, though Wang Lung no longer worries about the weather and the harvests, since he has plenty of money. He calls Pear Blossom out, and the second son looks as though he’s heard rumors about her relationship with his father, but didn’t believe them until now. He says nothing about it, and they continue with their normal conversation.
Wang Lung now feels some sort of responsibility to live up to his sons’ social expectations of him. Even though it’s acceptable for rich men to have concubines, there also seems to be some sense of slight impropriety around it. In this situation, Wang Lung is also embarrassed because of the age difference between himself and Pear Blossom.
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Later that day, the eldest son comes to Wang Lung’s court. Wang Lung is afraid for him to find out about Pear Blossom, but then he realizes that his son is afraid of many foolish things, and he calls Pear Blossom out to pour their tea. The eldest son looks like he secretly envies his father, and he says his father can do what he wants. Wang Lung can tell that before long, his eldest son will look for a concubine himself.
Wang Lung finally realizes that he shouldn’t be controlled by fear of his sons’ approval. His eldest son has always been lustful, and now that he sees his father pursuing concubines, he begins to see this as an option for himself, too. However, concubines cost money, so an abundance of them might be unwise.
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The youngest son comes that evening when Pear Blossom is sitting with Wang Lung in the court. The youngest son appears suddenly, like a panther, looking fierce. He says that he’s going to become a soldier. Wang Lung is speechless. When the boy looks at Pear Blossom, she hides her face. The youngest son leaps out of the court. Wang Lung tells Pear Blossom he’s too old for her, but she cries that she likes old men. The next morning, the youngest son has disappeared.
Coming after the other two sons’ acceptance of Pear Blossom’s new position, the youngest son’s reaction seems even more unexpected. However, he did express attraction to the girl, and it’s bitter for one’s father to steal one’s love interest. The youngest son displays a strength of will that no one else in the family has, and it makes Wang Lung doubt himself.
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