The Good Earth

by: Pearl S. Buck

Wang Lung’s oldest son

Wang Lung’s oldest son is in many ways similar to Wang Lung himself. The primary difference is that Wang Lung was raised in poverty, and his son is raised in luxury. Like Wang Lung, the oldest son is focused and ambitious—but whereas Wang Lung only desires to obtain wealth and respectability, his son desires to become a great scholar and live a life of splendor. Wang Lung and his son both show outward signs of respecting their elders, but while Wang Lung truly believes in the custom of filial piety, his son merely pays it lip service, not truly caring about the needs of the older generation. This difference in their respect for elders is an example of the general difference between Wang Lung and his son: Wang Lung retains his connection to tradition even while craving wealth and advancement, whereas his son has no interest in what he considers quaint and outmoded ethical ideas, and feels free to live only for himself.


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