The Good Earth

The Good Earth

O-lan is Wang Lung’s wife. She’s a quiet, hardworking woman who has suffered much even before she comes to Wang Lung’s house. Her father sold her as a slave in a year of famine, and she works in the House of Hwang until she marries Wang Lung. She’s not physically attractive, which Wang Lung comes to fault her for. However, she’s quite clever and resourceful and often saves Wang Lung in difficult situations by revealing talents he doesn’t know she has. She’s also brutally realistic; she kills a daughter that she births during the famine, knowing that they can’t feed her, and she suggests that Wang Lung sell their eldest daughter so that they can return to their land from the city. O-lan’s willingness to subject her daughter to the horrors of slavery that she herself knows intimately shows both her internalized misogyny and her complete loyalty to Wang Lung. Furthermore, she takes great pleasure in overcoming her past, taking personal victory from any opportunity to show that she has risen above the station of slave in the House of Hwang. She eventually dies of organ failure.

O-lan Quotes in The Good Earth

The The Good Earth quotes below are all either spoken by O-lan or refer to O-lan. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Washington Square Press edition of The Good Earth published in 2004.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“Raise him,” said the old lady gravely to the gateman, “these obeisances are not necessary. Has he come for the woman?”

“Yes, Ancient One,” replied the gateman.

“Why does he not speak for himself?” asked the old lady.

“Because he is a fool, Ancient One,” said the gateman...

This roused Wang Lung and he looked with indignation at the gateman.

“I am only a coarse person, Great and Ancient Lady,” he said. “I do not know what words to use in such a presence.”

Related Characters: Wang Lung (speaker), The Old Mistress (speaker), The gateman (speaker), O-lan
Related Symbols: The House of Hwang
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in repreh

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis n

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Good Earth quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 2 Quotes

Moving together in a perfect rhythm, without a word, hour after hour, he fell into a union with her which took the pain from his labor. He had no articulate thought of anything; there was only this perfect sympathy of movement, of turning this earth of theirs over and over to the sun, this earth which formed their home and fed their bodies and made their gods. The earth lay rich and dark, and fell apart lightly under the points of their hoes.... Some time, in some age, bodies of men and women had been buried there, houses had stood there, had fallen, and gone back into the earth. So would also their house, some time, return into the earth, their bodies also. Each had his turn at this earth. They worked on, moving together—together—producing the fruit of this earth—speechless in their movement together.

Related Characters: Wang Lung, O-lan
Related Symbols: The Land
Page Number: 29-30
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 3 Quotes

Wang Lung sat smoking, thinking of the silver as it had lain upon the table. It had come out of the earth, this silver, out of his earth that he ploughed and turned and spent himself upon. He took his life from this earth; drop by drop by his sweat he wrung food from it and from the food, silver. Each time before this that he had taken the silver out to give to anyone, it had been like taking a piece of his life and giving it to someone carelessly. But now... he saw the silver transmuted into something worth even more than itself—clothes upon the body of his son. And this strange woman of his, who worked about, saying nothing, seeming to see nothing, she had first seen the child thus clothed!

Related Characters: Wang Lung, O-lan, The Old Mistress
Related Symbols: The Land
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupi

Chapter 4 Quotes

There was more than enough [milk] for the child, greedy though he was, life enough for many children, and she let it flow out carelessly, conscious of her abundance. There was always more and more. Sometimes she lifted her breast and let it flow out upon the ground to save her clothing, and it sank into the earth and made a soft, dark, rich spot in the field. The child was fat and good-natured and ate of the inexhaustible life his mother gave him.

Related Characters: O-lan, The eldest son (Nung En)
Related Symbols: The Land
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 5 Quotes

I had but a moment for private talk with the cook under whom I worked before... but she said, ‘This house cannot stand forever with all the young lords, five of them, spending money like waste water in foreign parts and sending home woman after woman as they weary of them, and the Old Lord living at home adding a concubine or two each year, and the Old Mistress eating enough opium every day to fill two shoes with gold.’

Related Characters: O-lan (speaker), Wang Lung, The Old Mistress, The Old Lord
Related Symbols: The House of Hwang, Opium
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 7 Quotes

The voice of his wife answered from the bed more feebly than he had ever heard her speak,

“It is over once more. It is only a slave this time—not worth mentioning.”

Wang Lung stood still. A sense of evil struck him. A girl! A girl was causing all this trouble in his uncle’s house. Now a girl had been born into his house as well.

Related Characters: O-lan (speaker), Wang Lung, The daughter / the eldest daughter (the poor fool), Wang Lung’s uncle
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat noLoremLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo conse

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est

Chapter 16 Quotes

“If I could have two,” she went on humbly, “only two small ones—two small white pearls even...”

“Pearls!” he repeated, agape... Then Wang Lung... looked for an instant into the heart of this dull and faithful creature, who had labored all her life at some task at which she won no reward and who in the great house had seen others wearing jewels which she never even felt in her hand once.

Related Characters: Wang Lung (speaker), O-lan (speaker)
Related Symbols: The House of Hwang, The Pearls
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehende

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 24 Quotes

But [O-lan] rose at dawn and she did her work and Wang Lung saw her only as he saw the table or his chair or a tree in the court, never even so keenly as he might see one of the oxen drooping its head or a pig that would not eat.... And she said nothing but she worked at her cooking and at the washing at the pool even in the winter when the water was stiff with ice to be broken. But Wang Lung never thought to say,

“Well, and why do you not with the silver I have to spare, hire a servant or buy a slave?”

Related Characters: Wang Lung, O-lan
Page Number: 239
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris ni

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui offici

Get the entire The Good Earth LitChart as a printable PDF.
The good earth.pdf.medium

O-lan Character Timeline in The Good Earth

The timeline below shows where the character O-lan appears in The Good Earth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...explains that he’s come for a woman, and the Old Mistress recalls that the slave O-lan is to be married to him. She orders O-lan brought in. (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
Wang Lung can hardly look at O-lan, he’s so nervous. He’s satisfied with her voice, but disappointed that her feet aren’t bound.... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
The gateman drops O-lan’s box of possessions by Wang Lung’s basket of food and disappears. Wang Lung now finally... (full context)
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
At the city gate, Wang Lung buys peaches and gives them to O-lan to eat. She walks behind him, and he sees her nibbling the peaches, but she... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Wang Lung lights incense in front of the figures, and he and O-lan stand before them. O-lan brushes ash away from the incense, and then is fearful she... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Wang Lung’s father stands in the doorway, but it’s beneath him to acknowledge O-lan. Instead, he predicts that it will rain soon, and tells Wang Lung off for spending... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
That evening, guests arrive, relatives and other farmers. They sit in the middle room. O-lan doesn’t want the men to see her, which makes Wang Lung proud that he gets... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
When the guests finally leave, Wang Lung finds O-lan asleep by the ox in the kitchen. When he wakes her, she instinctively raises her... (full context)
Chapter 2
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
The next morning, Wang Lung feels luxurious as he watches O-lan get dressed. He’s surprised that her face looks the same as it did before, since... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Lying in bed, Wang Lung finds himself wondering whether O-lan likes him and enjoyed their night. He’s very happy with her body and is ashamed... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...the next few months, Wang Lung works hard in his fields, but he always watches O-lan, and he takes great pleasure in going home to a clean house and food already... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Since she’s used to working in a busy house, O-lan quickly runs out of tasks, so one day she comes out to Wang Lung in... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...home, where Wang Lung’s father is impatient for his dinner. Wang Lung tells him that O-lan is pregnant, trying not to show his excitement. The old man is happy at the... (full context)
Chapter 3
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...night after dinner that they should find a woman to help with the birth, but O-lan shakes her head. Wang Lung has gotten used to O-lan’s silence. He insists that there... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
O-lan says that when she goes back to the House of Hwang, she will bring her... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
O-lan doesn’t want anyone with her when she gives birth. Her time comes one evening when... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...many children who died. Wang Lung stands at the door of the room, listening to O-lan pant and smelling a frightening smell of blood. Finally, he hears a baby cry and... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Wang Lung goes back to the room, and O-lan allows him to enter. It smells like blood, but the only blood he can see... (full context)
Chapter 4
Family Theme Icon
The day after the birth, O-lan makes food as usual but doesn’t go to work in the fields. That afternoon, Wang... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Before long, O-lan begins working in the fields with Wang Lung again. They thresh and winnow the harvested... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...grain far too early. Wang Lung’s uncle’s wife is lazy and always wants luxuries, unlike O-lan. Wang Lung even has a leg of pork that he bought from his neighbor Ching... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...too friendly with them, so he avoids visiting. He stays home and mends tools while O-lan mends clothes and earthenware. They feel happy at each other’s work and approval, though they... (full context)
Chapter 5
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
O-lan bakes fancy moon cakes like those eaten in the House of Hwang. When Wang Lung... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
On the second day of the New Year, women visit each other. O-lan dresses the baby in his fancy new clothes, and she and Wang Lung also dress... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
When the gateman brings O-lan back, Wang Lung examines her face and can tell that all has gone well. As... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
...his happiness. He hides the child and says aloud that it is a sickly female. O-lan agrees. He asks what has caused this change in the fortunes of the great house,... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
The Old Mistress told O-lan that the family is looking to sell land just outside the city wall. This entirely... (full context)
Chapter 6
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...Lung works hard throughout the spring. His father takes care of the baby so that O-lan can work in the fields. When Wang Lung notices that O-lan is pregnant again, he’s... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...son and is pleased. He imagines that he’ll have another every year, and feels that O-lan brings him good luck. He tells his father that the eldest son will have to... (full context)
Chapter 7
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
The next day, Wang Lung’s uncle comes to the field where he’s working. O-lan isn’t working with him, because she’s pregnant again, and not as strong as before. Wang... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...the Hwangs shows his wealth. Wang Lung gets angry, telling his uncle that he and O-lan work hard, unlike his uncle and his uncle’s wife. His uncle slaps him for speaking... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
In the room, Wang Lung finds that O-lan has birthed a girl, which she calls a “slave.” Wang Lung feels that the birth... (full context)
Chapter 8
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...He constantly brings the rice buckets of water, but finally the pond goes dry and O-lan says the well water must be used for drinking. Wang Lung replies that if the... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...this fertile land, particularly since it belonged to a great house. He doesn’t even tell O-lan that he bought it. (full context)
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...away. Wang Lung harvests small amounts of beans and corn, making sure nothing is wasted. O-lan tells him to save the corn cobs, because when she was a child they ate... (full context)
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Wang Lung lies in bed with a quilt around his head so he can’t hear O-lan kill the ox. He finally comes out when she’s cooked the meat, but he can’t... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...disappointed when they only find a tiny amount, so they begin to take his furniture. O-lan speaks to them, saying that her family has no more than theirs. They’re all starving,... (full context)
Chapter 9
Family Theme Icon
...dying, but Wang Lung has to take care of his family. Wang Lung joyfully tells O-lan that they’ll leave, and she approves, saying that she’ll give birth soon, and they can... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...some to Wang Lung. He brings back some moldy beans, which Wang Lung gives to O-lan, who knows she’ll die giving birth if she doesn’t eat. Wang Lung chews a few... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
That night, Wang Lung sits in the main room while O-lan gives birth alone, as she wishes. He doesn’t care whether it’s a boy or a... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...water, which has a little nutrition and slightly satisfies their hunger. He’s glad to hear O-lan slowly eating the few beans left. (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
O-lan comes to the door. She says calmly that they won’t sell the land, because they’ll... (full context)
Chapter 10
Family Theme Icon
...and they leave. Wang Lung carries the girl until he has to give her to O-lan so that he can carry his father on his back. They pass the temple with... (full context)
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...and water, and has often intended to go see it, but never has. He asks O-lan if she thinks they should go on the firewagon. While they stop to wonder, Wang... (full context)
Chapter 11
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
...they get off the firewagon, Wang Lung has a plan. He leaves the family with O-lan and goes to buy mats. He can hardly understand the southerners’ accents, and they have... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...the other side of the wall. Wang Lung struggles to put a hut together until O-lan says she knows how to do it from her childhood. Before long she makes a... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...money, but Wang Lung no longer despairs, because there’s so much food in the city. O-lan says she, the children, and the old man can beg. She shows the boys how... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...thinks about his land waiting for him at home. He returns to the hut, and O-lan and the boys have begged enough money to pay for their rice the next morning.... (full context)
Chapter 12
Social Status Theme Icon
...frightened of her, but she gives him twice the usual fare. When Wang Lung tells O-lan, she says that the foreigners always give her more money when she begs, but they... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
The second son begins to get good at stealing. Though this doesn’t bother O-lan, Wang Lung hates seeing his sons steal. One night when there’s pork in the stew... (full context)
Chapter 13
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Wang Lung returns to the hut and tells O-lan that if he had anything to sell, they would go back to the land. He... (full context)
Chapter 14
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...arrival of spring, the beggars go out to the countryside to forage for food, and O-lan and the boys go with them. Wang Lung continues to work. The warm weather makes... (full context)
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...a relative of the foreigner was killed this way and the man wants revenge. Eventually O-lan sews the paper into the sole of a shoe. (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...Wang Lung isn’t convinced, but he takes the papers that the man gives so that O-lan can use them for shoes. (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Wang Lung tells O-lan what has happened and feels terrified that he’ll be forced to die on a battlefield... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...so that he can try a cake, and Wang Lung thinks longingly of the cakes O-lan made when they were prospering. Suddenly he can no longer stand their life here, and... (full context)
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...to a great house, and, not understanding, she smiles, which pains him. Wang Lung asks O-lan whether she was beaten as a slave, and she says she was beaten every day... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Suddenly there’s a deafening noise, and the family cowers to the ground. When it stops, O-lan says that the enemy has broken into the city. Then they hear the sound of... (full context)
Chapter 15
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...daughters. Wang Lung spends all his time in the fields, even napping in the dirt. O-lan repairs the house, and one day she and Wang Lung buy new furniture and set... (full context)
Chapter 16
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
One night in bed, Wang Lung feels a bundle hanging around O-lan’s neck. At first she doesn’t want to show it to him, but then she yields.... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...land, which can’t be stolen. As he’s putting them into his coat, he notices that O-lan seems to want something. She asks whether she might keep two white pearls, not to... (full context)
Chapter 17
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...fields with him to get them used to the labor. However, he no longer allows O-lan to work in the fields, since he can hire workers now. He builds another room... (full context)
Social Status Theme Icon
Wang Lung and O-lan outfit the boys with clothes and writing supplies. They are to attend a school run... (full context)
Chapter 18
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
Wang Lung looks at O-lan but never sees anything new. He suddenly sees that she’s ugly and unaware of her... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
Wang Lung gets grumpier as he remembers that he owes his land to O-lan’s theft of the jewels. He tells himself that she only took them because they were... (full context)
Chapter 19
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
...have forgotten the painting of the woman. But nothing happens, so he remains restless, avoiding O-lan’s stare. One evening he puts on his nicest coat and goes to the tea shop,... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...which keeps him always wanting her. It’s not a healthy love as his desire for O-lan was; when Lotus forces him to leave each night, he never feels satisfied, and only... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...only for the nights. When Lotus laughs at his long hair, he cuts it off. O-lan is terrified by this, but he says Wang Lung doesn’t want to look old-fashioned. He... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
Wang Lung’s family doesn’t understand the change in him. He no longer lets O-lan make his clothes, but goes to a tailor, and he buys shoes like those the... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...her gifts. Whenever she expresses a desire for anything, he must buy it for her. O-lan sees him taking silver out of their hole in the wall but remains silent. She... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
One day, Wang Lung finds O-lan washing his clothes and asks her what she’s done with the pearls she kept. He’s... (full context)
Chapter 20
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...very angry but has to pretend to welcome them. After a few days of anger, O-lan tells him they have to bear the situation. (full context)
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...His uncle’s wife immediately sees that he’s in love with another woman, and she tells O-lan. Wang Lung overhears. His uncle’s wife says that she knows the signs of a man... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...he can’t have her. His uncle’s wife grows impatient with his worrying. Wang Lung forces O-lan to constantly clean the house, and she becomes terrified, knowing what’s happening. Wang Lung can’t... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...court. Then he’s impatient again. He’s always harsh to his family now, and one day O-lan begins weeping more passionately than he’s ever seen. She can only repeat that she has... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
O-lan finally returns at night with the children and goes through her normal routine without Wang... (full context)
Chapter 21
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...to believe that bringing Lotus and Cuckoo into his house will cause conflict, even though O-lan and Cuckoo’s attitudes show that it does. As time passes and Lotus remains, his hunger... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
O-lan becomes unnaturally angry with Cuckoo. Cuckoo is willing to be friendly, but never forgets that... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
In the morning, O-lan refuses to leave hot water for Cuckoo or let her use the cauldron to boil... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...His love for Lotus becomes shot through with irritation, and he can’t even talk to O-lan about it. (full context)
Chapter 22
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...in the fields, his body hardening again. When he comes home for meals he eats O-lan’s simple food and breathes the smell of garlic onto Lotus, though she hates it. He’s... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...instead of going to school. When Wang Lung finds out, he beats the boy until O-lan intervenes, but the boy endures it without a sound. (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
One evening after Wang Lung beats his eldest son, O-lan tells him that the beatings will do no good. She’s seen the young lords in... (full context)
Chapter 23
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
One morning, the eldest son comes home drunk and sick. Wang Lung discovers him, and O-lan washes him and puts him to bed. Wang Lung questions the younger son as to... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...his son’s marriage. He watches over his sleeping son, thinking with disgust of the whore. O-lan comes in and wipes away the boy’s sweat. Then Wang Lung goes to his uncle’s... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...eldest son, but wants to wait another three years, which worries Wang Lung. He tells O-lan they must betroth their other children as soon as possible to avoid this same trouble.... (full context)
Chapter 24
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Wang Lung is almost entirely content, but one night O-lan comes to him. She’s become thinner and says her organs are burning. She’s looked pregnant... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
O-lan tells Wang Lung that their eldest son goes into Lotus’s court when he’s not there.... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...He tells his son to leave for the south the next day. Wang Lung passes O-lan, but she says nothing. Then he returns to his fields, weary. (full context)
Chapter 25
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...it’s because her bound feet hurt and keep her from sleeping. She’s kept quiet because O-lan told her his pity for her might make him unbind her feet, in which case... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
That night, Wang Lung can’t sleep for thinking about O-lan’s faithfulness and how she has accurately read his character. In the following days, he sends... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...seems like this is the first occasion Wang Lung has had time to think about O-lan, and now he can’t stop thinking about her. He hasn’t let her work in the... (full context)
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Wang Lung watches O-lan as she goes about her work, and one day he sees that she’s in pain.... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Wang Lung is terrified and shouts at the doctor to give her medicine. O-lan awakens. The doctor offers one medicine that won’t ensure recovery and another, at an exorbitant... (full context)
Chapter 26
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
O-lan lies dying all through the winter, and Wang Lung’s family finally realizes how much she... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Wang Lung pays no attention to the land while O-lan is dying. Ching takes care of everything, coming twice a day to ask after O-lan,... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Wang Lung refuses to talk about O-lan’s death, but one day he goes to buy a coffin for her. The carpenter gives... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Wang Lung sits by O-lan in silence, though sometimes she talks as though remembering her childhood, speaking to someone who... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
Sometimes O-lan becomes fully conscious, and one day she summons Cuckoo. She tells her that despite Cuckoo’s... (full context)
Social Status Theme Icon
Just before the New Year, O-lan seems better. She has Wang Lung send for the girl who is engaged to their... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
After a few days, O-lan says she wants to see her eldest son marry before she dies. Wang Lung doesn’t... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...and wearing fine clothes. Wang Lung is proud of him and brings him to see O-lan. The son is sad at her state, but pretends to be cheerful. Lotus, Cuckoo, and... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...eldest son and his bride bow to Wang Lung and his father and go into O-lan’s room to bow to her. Her cheeks are red and Wang Lung takes this as... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...and Cuckoo has hired town cooks to prepare the food. Everyone has a wonderful time. O-lan has the doors left open so that she can hear and smell the feast, and... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
O-lan tells her eldest son and his wife to take care of her family, and tells... (full context)
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
Wang Lung doesn’t want to be near O-lan’s dead body, so he has his relatives prepare the body and put it in the... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...the coffin himself. He decides to make a burial plot on his land and bury O-lan and his father there. Wang Lung, too, will be buried there in time. His father’s... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...to prevent the deaths. After the burial, he walks home alone, wishing he had let O-lan keep her pearls, and he decides never to allow Lotus to wear them again. He... (full context)
Chapter 29
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...has a grandson. Wang Lung is joyful and laughs at his anxiety. He sits remembering O-lan giving birth to all of his children silently and alone, in contrast to his eldest... (full context)
Chapter 32
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...was, coming to the House of Hwang to marry a slave. He hasn’t thought of O-lan in years, and now he thinks of her sadly. (full context)