The Good Earth

The Good Earth

The eldest son (Nung En) Character Analysis

Wang Lung intends for his eldest son to become a scholar and help him when he signs contracts to sell his harvests. He doesn’t expect his son to become moody and lustful—like a young lord in the House of Hwang, O-lan says, which makes Wang Lung proud even as he’s exasperated, since it proves that he’s advancing his family. The eldest son comes to care even more than Wang Lung does about the appearance of his family, and he wants to be respected by the important men in town. As a result, he spends excessive amounts of money on decorating the house in town, leading to conflicts with his brother, the second son.

The eldest son (Nung En) Quotes in The Good Earth

The The Good Earth quotes below are all either spoken by The eldest son (Nung En) or refer to The eldest son (Nung En). 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 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:

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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.

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Chapter 30 Quotes

...[T]hese common people found that the rent for the rooms and the courts where they lived had been greatly raised... and they had to move away. Then they knew it was Wang Lung’s eldest son who had done this...

The common people had to move, then, and they moved complaining and cursing because a rich man could do as he would and they... went away swelling with anger and muttering that one day they would come back even as the poor do come back when the rich are too rich.

Related Characters: Wang Lung, The eldest son (Nung En)
Related Symbols: The House of Hwang
Page Number: 308
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 an

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 an

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 34 Quotes

“Now, evil, idle sons—sell the land!” He choked and would have fallen, and they caught him and held him up, and he began to weep.... “It is the end of a family—when they begin to sell the land,” he said brokenly. “Out of the land we came and into it we must go—and if you will hold your land you can live—no one can rob you of land—”

...And he stooped and took up a handful of the soil and he held it and he muttered,

“If you sell the land, it is the end.”

...And they soothed him and they said over and over, the elder son and the second son,

“Rest assured, our father, rest assured. The land is not to be sold.”

But over the old man’s head they looked at each other and smiled.

Related Characters: Wang Lung (speaker), The eldest son (Nung En), The second son (Nung Wen)
Related Symbols: The Land
Page Number: 357
Explanation and Analysis:

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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.

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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.

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The eldest son (Nung En) Character Timeline in The Good Earth

The timeline below shows where the character The eldest son (Nung En) appears in The Good Earth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...every year, and feels that O-lan brings him good luck. He tells his father that the eldest son will have to sleep with him now, and the old man is delighted, as he... (full context)
Chapter 14
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...and a man told them that one day the riches would belong to the poor. The elder son wants money so that he can try a cake, and Wang Lung thinks longingly of... (full context)
Chapter 17
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...sign his own name, and the clerks laugh at him. He decides to send his eldest son to school so that he can deal with the contracts for his father. When Wang... (full context)
Chapter 22
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...Lung has a good harvest that year, and he takes it to market with his eldest son . He’s proud to see his son reading and writing in front of the clerks,... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
When they’re walking home, Wang Lung decides that he must find his eldest son a wife so he doesn’t have to marry a slave as Wang Lung himself did.... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...is true, but as spring comes, he still can’t find a proper wife for his eldest son . As the trees sprout leaves, his son becomes moody, worrying Wang Lung. No matter... (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... (full context)
Chapter 23
Family Theme Icon
...that he’s thinking about how to find a respectable wife for his son. Lotus likes the eldest son now, and she tells Wang Lung about a man who used to come to her... (full context)
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... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...She tells him to come back later, but Wang Lung says he’s come about his eldest son . He describes him to her, and she remembers the boy and his cousin. Wang... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...be particularly courteous to his uncle’s family, even giving them extra money. He keeps his eldest son inside in the evenings, which makes the boy irritable. Wang Lung considers moving into the... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Liu agrees to the marriage of his daughter to Wang Lung’s eldest son , but wants to wait another three years, which worries Wang Lung. He tells O-lan... (full context)
Chapter 24
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
One day Wang Lung’s eldest son tells him that his teacher has no more to teach him, and he wants to... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
That night, when Wang Lung visits Lotus, she says that his eldest son wants to leave and go south. He snaps that his son shouldn’t have been speaking... (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. Wang Lung hardly believes her, so she... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...his life. He strips a piece of bamboo and bursts into the court. Lotus and the eldest son don’t see him at first, and he watches them talking and laughing. Cuckoo sees him... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...into Lotus’s room, where she lies crying. He accuses her of trying to seduce his eldest son , but she says he only came because he was lonely, and they never slept... (full context)
Chapter 25
Family Theme Icon
Wang Lung is relieved when his eldest son has gone. He feels that he can now take better care of his other children.... (full context)
Chapter 26
Social Status Theme Icon
...seems better. She has Wang Lung send for the girl who is engaged to their eldest son so that she can make the food for the festival. Liu agrees to let his... (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 like to hear her talk about dying, but... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The night before the wedding, the eldest son comes home, looking like a man and wearing fine clothes. Wang Lung is proud of... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...he finally does, he laughs joyfully, making everyone else laugh too. Wang Lung watches his eldest son carefully and sees that he likes his bride, and Wang Lung is glad to have... (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 the woman that she... (full context)
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...where O-lan died, so he moves into Lotus’s court and gives the room to his eldest son and his wife. (full context)
Chapter 27
Family Theme Icon
Wang Lung’s eldest son keeps his wife shut up in their room away from his cousin, the uncle’s son,... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The eldest son is amazed and suggests that they push the uncle’s family into the water and drown... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...and pulls her away from him. His nephew shows no remorse. Wang Lung tells his eldest son what happened, and the son says they should send the second daughter to the house... (full context)
Chapter 28
Family Theme Icon
One day the eldest son announces that his wife is pregnant. Wang Lung is joyful and has Ching buy good... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...notices that the boy seems unhappy. Wang Lung wants peace in his house, but his eldest son still hates the uncle’s son. The son watches his cousin constantly and suspects him of... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
When Wang Lung returns from the fields, his eldest son says he can’t bear to have his cousin in the house anymore. He doesn’t bring... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
The eldest son suggests that they might move to town and leave the uncle’s family in the country.... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...who will make him spend money. Wang Lung is surprised at this characterization of his eldest son ’s wife, but he’s happy to find that this son he’s almost ignored has a... (full context)
Chapter 29
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Wang Lung tells his eldest son to arrange to rent the house, and the family prepares to move. When they’re ready... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
One morning Wang Lung hears his eldest son ’s wife in labor. He’s frightened of her screams, so he brings incense to a... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...O-lan giving birth to all of his children silently and alone, in contrast to his eldest son ’s wife, who shrieked and caused panic. Wang Lung remembers O-lan nursing her son in... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
Wang Lung’s eldest son throws a great feast to celebrate the birth of his son. Afterwards, he tells Wang... (full context)
Chapter 30
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...Lung thinks he has everything he could want and can live in peace. But his eldest son always comes to ask him to buy things to make the family great and plan... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
The eldest son buys beautiful furniture and decorations for the house. Whenever he goes through the outer courts,... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...of what goes on, as he stays in the inner courts, sleeping and eating. His eldest son has the outer courts rebuilt and made beautiful with his wife’s advice. The townspeople hear... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...all on the son’s wedding, but the second son says it’s really to satisfy the elder son ’s pride. Wang Lung agrees to stop giving his elder son so much money. The... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
Wang Lung tells his eldest son they’ve made enough improvements to the house, but his son insists they need to live... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
The eldest son persists, saying that Wang Lung’s youngest son should be sent to school. Wang Lung had... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...thinks how much easier his daughters are. When he calms down, however, he tells his elder son to arrange for the youngest son’s education. (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...least pay he can. Cuckoo says a truly great family would be more generous, so the eldest son gives her more money to keep her quiet. He only invites a few friends to... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...Sometimes Wang Lung wishes he were back in his plain house on his fields. The eldest son and the second son always argue about spending money and their social status. Wang Lung’s... (full context)
Chapter 31
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...so they quickly take over the house. Wang Lung is powerless. He desperately tells his eldest son what’s happened. The eldest son decides he has to be courteous because the soldiers are... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Dismayed, Wang Lung and his eldest son bar the door of the inner court. The second son rushes in with news that... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...comes and admires the sons’ wives, flirting with the second son’s wife and insulting the elder son ’s wife. Then he goes to Lotus and calls her “Old Mistress,” saying he can... (full context)
Chapter 32
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...and they always use his words to insult each other. The sons also clash because the eldest son worries about his social status, and the second son worries about his brother’s waste of... (full context)
Chapter 33
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
Later that day, the eldest son comes to Wang Lung’s court. Wang Lung is afraid for him to find out about... (full context)
Chapter 34
Family Theme Icon
Wang Lung asks Cuckoo about his sons’ wives, and she tells him that his eldest son seems to be thinking of taking a concubine, and often visits the tea shops. She... (full context)
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Wang Lung returns to town and sends for his eldest son , but when he arrives Wang Lung can’t remember what he wanted to say. He... (full context)
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...often, and if they don’t he complains to Pear Blossom. She says they’re busy, as the eldest son holds a position in the town and the younger son has his own grain market.... (full context)