Friday, September 6, 2013

Classic Reads: The West Gets Its First Look at China in The Good Earth

Westerners didn't begin to understand what life was like in China until 1931 when Pearl Buck wrote The Good Earth, a Pulitzer-Prize winner.

At the same time, people in China didn't appreciate the way Buck portrayed them. Nevertheless, there's no denying that The Good Earth is a strong and richly moving story.

It opens with Wang Lung getting married and his new wife attending to his every need. As a terrible drought takes over their land, they start a family. Even though he eventually is forced to go to work in the city, he always dreams of getting back to the land.

By the end of the epic family story, Wang Lung has fallen in and out of love with his wife and is dying. His sons promise to tend to his land, but they have a conspiratorial look in their eyes and clearly, as the story ends, plan to get rid of everything Wang Lung has ever worked for.

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