The Good Earth

Wang Lung’s uncle is his father’s brother. He’s a lazy, immoral man who’s always looking to live off of Wang Lung’s charity. His perpetually loose, untidy clothes signify his generally careless way of living. Wang Lung despises his uncle for letting his wife laze about and his daughters run wild. When the famine comes, it’s suggested that he and his family might be eating human flesh, which foreshadows his later “consumption” of Wang Lung. When Wang Lung becomes wealthy, his uncle installs his family in Wang Lung’s house, expecting to be fed and clothed. Wang Lung is first bound to help his uncle by the obligations of family ties, but when Wang Lung gets fed up with his demands, his uncle reveals that he’s part of the Redbeards, a band of robbers. Thus, his presence in Wang Lung’s house protects the house from the robbers, but also forces Wang Lung to be courteous to his uncle’s family for fear of them. Eventually, Wang Lung strips his uncle of his power by getting him addicted to opium, which keeps him pacified and physically weak.

Wang Lung’s uncle Quotes in The Good Earth

The The Good Earth quotes below are all either spoken by Wang Lung’s uncle or refer to Wang Lung’s uncle. 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 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.

Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 8 Quotes

They cannot take the land from me. The labor of my body and the fruit of the fields I have put into that which cannot be taken away. If I had the silver, they would have taken it. If I had bought with the silver to store it, they would have taken it all. I have the land still, and it is mine.

Related Characters: Wang Lung (speaker), Wang Lung’s uncle
Related Symbols: The Land
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 20 Quotes

And Wang Lung... felt his mouth suddenly dry and parched and his voice came from him in a whisper,

“Silver, then! Silver and gold! Anything to the very price of my land!”

Related Characters: Wang Lung (speaker), Wang Lung’s uncle, Lotus, Cuckoo
Related Symbols: The Land
Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 28 Quotes

Then Wang Lung’s uncle took it greedily, for it was sweet to smell and a thing that only rich men used, and he took it and bought a pipe and he smoked the opium, lying all day upon his bed to do it. Then Wang Lung saw to it that there were pipes bought and left here and there... and the silver for this Wang Lung did not begrudge because it bought him peace.

Related Characters: Wang Lung, Wang Lung’s uncle
Related Symbols: Opium
Page Number: 281-82
Explanation and Analysis:
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Wang Lung’s uncle Character Timeline in The Good Earth

The timeline below shows where the character Wang Lung’s uncle appears in The Good Earth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...scarce to sell his grain, so that he’ll get a better price for it. His uncle, on the other hand, always has to sell his grain far too early. Wang Lung’s... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...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 want to eat them.... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Wang Lung has often thought his uncle might cause trouble, and now he begins to do so. Because of their family ties,... (full context)
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The uncle’s wife tells Wang Lung that they can’t pay for their daughters to marry since they... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
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Wang Lung’s uncle agrees that his daughter should be married, and he’s worried that she’ll get pregnant and... (full context)
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Wang Lung replies that he isn’t rich, and has many mouths to feed. His uncle says that his purchase of land from the Hwangs shows his wealth. Wang Lung gets... (full context)
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Finally, Wang Lung asks what his uncle wants of him. His uncle calms down and asks for money to marry off his... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...wall, O-lan asks what he’s doing, and he says he must lend it to his uncle. O-lan points out that it won’t be a loan, but a gift. Wang Lung is... (full context)
Chapter 8
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The villagers think that Wang Lung is hiding money and food. His uncle comes asking for help, and Wang Lung has to give him a small amount of... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...a faint smile that breaks his heart. Ching says that the villagers, including Wang Lung’s uncle and his uncle’s wife, are eating human flesh. Wang Lung becomes afraid and says that... (full context)
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...for stealing from him. Ching is ashamed, and says that it was all Wang Lung’s uncle’s fault. He only has a handful of beans, but he’ll give some to Wang Lung.... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
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Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
As Wang Lung thinks of death, he sees men, including his uncle, coming towards the house. His uncle remarks that Wang Lung’s family is doing well. Wang... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
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...his land. His second son crawls to the door, too weak to walk. Wang Lung’s uncle asks if that’s the same fat boy he saw in the summer, and Wang Lung... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...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 must leave... (full context)
Chapter 15
Connection to the Earth Theme Icon
...stealing from his house while he was gone. They say that it was either his uncle or bandits. (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...in his empty house and attacked the surrounding area. There are rumors that Wang Lung’s uncle was involved. Ching looks awful, and Wang Lung asks what he’s eaten to survive. Ching... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
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Wang Lung is glad to discover that no one knows where his uncle has gone, though he’s angry at the news that his uncle sold all his daughters.... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Wang Lung might have spent all his money if his uncle didn’t suddenly turn up at his door as the family eats breakfast one day. Wang... (full context)
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Wang Lung realizes that his uncle will never leave, since he now knows that Wang Lung can take care of him.... (full context)
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...have no comfort in his own house, he has to find it with Lotus. His uncle’s wife immediately sees that he’s in love with another woman, and she tells O-lan. Wang... (full context)
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The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
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...Lotus by buying her and bringing her to live with him. He speaks to his uncle’s wife privately, seeking her approval of his plan, which she gives eagerly. She tells him... (full context)
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The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...until Lotus is his. He thinks he’ll kill himself if he can’t have her. His uncle’s wife grows impatient with his worrying. Wang Lung forces O-lan to constantly clean the house,... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...feels bad, knowing he has no good reason to be angry with her. Finally, his uncle’s wife announces the price that Cuckoo and Lotus demand. Wang Lung is overjoyed and gives... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
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...followed by Cuckoo. Wang Lung is suddenly afraid and hides in his room until his uncle’s wife calls to him. He comes out ashamedly, and Cuckoo greets him. She tells Lotus... (full context)
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When Wang Lung’s uncle’s wife emerges, she tells him that Lotus isn’t as young as she appears, and if... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...Lung is proud of other men’s jealousy of Lotus, because this shows his wealth. His uncle often brags about Wang Lung’s prosperity, and the village men respect him as a superior.... (full context)
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...talking about potential brides, but doesn’t say anything about it to anyone, particularly not his uncle’s wife, whom he doesn’t trust to find someone fitting. (full context)
Chapter 23
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...boy finally admits that his brother has gone out for three nights with Wang Lung’s uncle’s son, but he doesn’t know where. (full context)
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Wang Lung finds his uncle’s son in his uncle’s rooms, also drunk. He questions the young man, who at first... (full context)
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...O-lan comes in and wipes away the boy’s sweat. Then Wang Lung goes to his uncle’s room and lashes out at him. When he tells his uncle what’s happened, the man... (full context)
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Wang Lung finds himself in a more uncomfortable situation than ever. His uncle acts just as he always has, and Wang Lung has to be nice to him... (full context)
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Wang Lung tries to be particularly courteous to his uncle’s family, even giving them extra money. He keeps his eldest son inside in the evenings,... (full context)
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
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...distract him for a week, and then he feels that he can live with his uncle until the man dies. He harvests his wheat and plants rice. (full context)
Chapter 26
Rich vs. Poor Theme Icon
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...luxurious as in the House of Hwang. He invites everyone he knows and tells his uncle to invite anyone he wants, since he’s treated his uncle courteously ever since he found... (full context)
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...is sad at her state, but pretends to be cheerful. Lotus, Cuckoo, and Wang Lung’s uncle’s wife prepare the bride for her wedding day, performing rituals, doing her makeup, and dressing... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
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...white robes and hires chairs to carry them to the burial, including Lotus and his uncle’s family. The eldest daughter laughs because she doesn’t understand what’s happening. (full context)
Chapter 27
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...he’s still able to eat, so he guards his house carefully. He knows that his uncle’s presence protects him from being robbed, so he gives his uncle’s family privileges in the... (full context)
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The next day, Wang Lung’s uncle asks for money, and Wang Lung has to give it to him, though he hates... (full context)
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...eldest son keeps his wife shut up in their room away from his cousin, the uncle’s son, whom he doesn’t trust. When he notices Wang Lung favoring the uncle’s family, the... (full context)
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The eldest son is amazed and suggests that they push the uncle’s family into the water and drown them. Wang Lung can’t bear to kill, and he... (full context)
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The Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Before long, Wang Lung’s uncle’s son begins to look at Wang Lung’s second daughter, who is very pretty. One night... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...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 mischief with the slaves... (full context)
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The eldest son suggests that they might move to town and leave the uncle’s family in the country. Wang Lung refuses to consider the suggestion, saying that the land... (full context)
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Wang Lung makes no decision yet, but he does notice the despicable actions of his uncle’s son. His uncle and his uncle’s wife have been weakened by the opium and no... (full context)
Chapter 29
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The uncle’s family moves into what were Lotus’s courts, but Wang Lung can tell that his uncle... (full context)
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Wang Lung’s uncle’s son grows restless, and when he hears about a war in the north, he asks... (full context)
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...to sell any of it. He sets a laborer’s family to take care of his uncle and uncle’s wife. He brings his youngest son and eldest daughter to live in the... (full context)
Chapter 30
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After five years, Wang Lung’s uncle dies during a very cold winter. Wang Lung’s uncle and the uncle’s wife have long... (full context)
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When Wang Lung’s uncle dies, he buries him in the family burial plot and the family wears mourning clothes... (full context)