The Good Earth

The Good Earth

Wang Lung’s father Character Analysis

Wang Lung’s father is quite old. He trusts Wang Lung to take care of him, and Wang Lung feels a strong familial duty to do so. He generally does little more than sit in the sun and nap, but he always maintains a very optimistic view of life, and is known to bring laughter to some of the grimmest situations. Symbolically, he acts as an advocate for the old way of life, before Wang Lung became wealthy, disapproving of anything he perceives as luxurious and scolding his son for purchasing a second woman, Lotus. He eventually dies, and Wang Lung buries him along with O-lan in the first graves in the family burial plot.
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Wang Lung’s father Character Timeline in The Good Earth

The timeline below shows where the character Wang Lung’s father appears in The Good Earth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
Wang Lung awakens on his wedding day. He usually waits to hear his father coughing and opening his door, but today Wang Lung gets up immediately and looks out... (full context)
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The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...as he has done ever since his mother died. For six years, he’s brought his father hot water to help with his cough, but Wang Lung will be able to rest... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
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Wang Lung’s father comes to the door of the kitchen, coughing and asking for his water. Wang Lung... (full context)
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The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...a long robe that he only wears for celebrations. He combs his long hair. His father returns to ask for food. Wang Lung takes the robe off and pours the water... (full context)
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The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
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...House of Hwang, where the woman he’s going to marry has been a slave. His father said Wang Lung could only afford to take a slave as his wife, so his... (full context)
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...when he looks at her. They reach the temple to the earth, which Wang Lung’s grandfather built. There used to be paintings on the walls, but rain has almost entirely washed... (full context)
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The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
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Wang Lung’s father stands in the doorway, but it’s beneath him to acknowledge O-lan. Instead, he predicts that... (full context)
Chapter 2
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The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
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...he feels like their wedding night has changed him. He tells her to bring his father hot water, and she asks whether to put tea leaves in it. He wants to... (full context)
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They go home, where Wang Lung’s father is impatient for his dinner. Wang Lung tells him that O-lan is pregnant, trying not... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Wang Lung’s father tells him not to worry yet and recalls his many children who died. Wang Lung... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...the baby tries to catch the water as it drips off the roof. Wang Lung’s father boasts of his grandson’s intelligence. The wheat sprouts. (full context)
Chapter 5
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...and riches onto his farm tools and symbols for good luck on the doors. His father makes new dresses for the temple figures out of more red paper, and Wang Lung... (full context)
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...House of Hwang. When Wang Lung sees how beautiful they are, he’s very proud. His father wants Wang Lung’s uncle to see them, but Wang Lung thinks the uncle’s family would... (full context)
Chapter 6
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The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Wang Lung works hard throughout the spring. His father takes care of the baby so that O-lan can work in the fields. When Wang... (full context)
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The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...have another 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... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...not protect it from the village men. When the food runs very low, Wang Lung’s father says they must eat the ox. Wang Lung protests, because he feels deeply connected to... (full context)
Chapter 9
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The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...smiles at him, he cries, and sometimes he sits at the door holding her. His father gets food even before the children, because Wang Lung knows it’s his responsibility to take... (full context)
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...children have died. He insists that he has only thought of Wang Lung and his father. He’s borrowed food from the men who are with him with a promise to help... (full context)
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...everything from the house. When they go to take the bed from under Wang Lung’s father, the uncle stands outside to avoid seeing his brother. When they leave, O-lan says they... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...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 its oblivious gods. The wind is frigid,... (full context)
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...she thinks they should go on the firewagon. While they stop to wonder, Wang Lung’s father and sons sink to the ground. His daughter looks almost dead, and O-lan says they’re... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...and rice. They’ve eaten so little lately that they have trouble eating now. Wang Lung’s father cheerfully forces the bread down, making the people around him laugh with his determination to... (full context)
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...Finally he returns with the mats. He sees that the boys are frightened, but his father is amazed at the southerners’ health. Caravans pass carrying bricks and grain, and the drivers... (full context)
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...next morning. The second son won’t let go of the money he begged. Wang Lung’s father didn’t get any money, but he says that he has worked all his life, so... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...Wang Lung can’t sleep, so he stands on the edge of the street where his father squats. The old man is holding onto a loop of cloth within which Wang Lung’s... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...on a cross. He brings it home and shows it to his family, and his father suggests that the man on the cross must have been evil. Wang Lung thinks perhaps... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...his eldest son to school so that he can deal with the contracts for his father. When Wang Lung announces his decision to his son, the boy is overjoyed. The second... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Wang Lung gets impatient with his father, who still thinks tea is too luxurious and doesn’t realize how wealthy Wang Lung is.... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...announces that he needs to sleep, and Wang Lung has to put him in his father’s bed. His uncle looks at the furniture and remarks on Wang Lung’s wealth. He acts... (full context)
Chapter 21
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One day Wang Lung’s father, who’s usually oblivious to the world around him, discovers the doorway through which Lotus lives.... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...for them. Nobody else seems to know how to cook and clean properly. Wang Lung’s father can’t understand why O-lan no longer helps him until Wang Lung brings him into her... (full context)
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...gives him a deal if he buys two, so he buys a second for his father. He tells O-lan what he’s done, and she’s glad. (full context)
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...glad to see her modesty. His sons enter, and he’s very proud of them. His father hasn’t understood what’s going on, but when he finally does, he laughs joyfully, making everyone... (full context)
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Before long, Wang Lung’s father dies in his sleep. The second daughter finds him in the morning and brings Wang... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...daughter away, he offers his uncle the opium, pretending he’d bought it to help his father sleep. The uncle is happy about it and smokes the opium. Wang Lung buys pipes... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...only has one son left to marry off. He sleeps in the sun like his father did. (full context)
Chapter 34
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As the years pass, Wang Lung sits in the sun like his father did. Sometimes he visits Lotus, who sits talking and eating with Cuckoo as a friend.... (full context)