The Good Earth

The Good Earth

The second son (Nung Wen) Character Analysis

The second son is crafty and thrifty. He goes to school along with the eldest son, and then Wang Lung apprentices him to Liu to learn to be a merchant. Wang Lung only begins to understand his son’s character when he requests that his father find him a wife who will work hard and not ask him to spend money. The second son argues with his brother, the eldest son, about the excessive use of money in the house in town. Eventually Wang Lung makes him steward over the land, putting him in charge of the money.

The second son (Nung Wen) Quotes in The Good Earth

The The Good Earth quotes below are all either spoken by The second son (Nung Wen) or refer to The second son (Nung Wen). 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 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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The second son (Nung Wen) Character Timeline in The Good Earth

The timeline below shows where the character The second son (Nung Wen) appears in The Good Earth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...for eating when his own children are starving. He refuses to sell his land. His second son crawls to the door, too weak to walk. Wang Lung’s uncle asks if that’s the... (full context)
Chapter 11
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...and the boys have begged enough money to pay for their rice the next morning. The second son won’t let go of the money he begged. Wang Lung’s father didn’t get any money,... (full context)
Chapter 12
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... (full context)
Chapter 17
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...his father. When Wang Lung announces his decision to his son, the boy is overjoyed. The second son doesn’t think it’s fair that his brother gets to go to school, so Wang Lung... (full context)
Chapter 25
Family Theme Icon
...he can now take better care of his other children. He decides to make his second son an apprentice before he grows difficult like the older one. The second son is very... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...they see. They drink and make small talk, until Wang Lung finally proposes that his second son might go to work for Liu. Liu says he’d be glad of the help, as... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...and how she has accurately read his character. In the following days, he sends his second son to his apprenticeship and makes the betrothal of the younger daughter official. He feels that... (full context)
Chapter 28
Family Theme Icon
One day Wang Lung visits his second son at the grain market and asks what he thinks of the family moving to town.... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The second son requests not to marry a woman from town like his brother’s wife, who will make... (full context)
Chapter 29
Family Theme Icon
...is peaceful and he rests. Eventually he asks Ching to find a wife for his second son . Ching goes to various villages to look at the women, and he returns with... (full context)
Chapter 30
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...to ask him to buy things to make the family great and plan for the second son ’s wedding. He wants Wang Lung to take over the outer courts of the house,... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
One day Wang Lung’s second son comes to him and says that they’re spending too much money on needless luxuries. Wang... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
Wang Lung appoints his second son as steward over the land, which pleases him, as it will give him control over... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
...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 grandson is the only... (full context)
Chapter 31
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...heard men say they’ll go to war, but war never seemed real. One day his second son tells him that the price of grain has gone up because a war is approaching.... (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 the soldiers have taken over all the houses in town,... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...courts because he’s family, however. He 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... (full context)
Chapter 32
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...The sons also clash because the eldest son worries about his social status, and the second son worries about his brother’s waste of money. The elder son doesn’t like it that his... (full context)
Chapter 33
Family Theme Icon
Social Status Theme Icon
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... (full context)