The Good Earth
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Why is it ironic that Wang Lung is disappointed that O-lan’s feet are not bound?
2. Why does O-lan smother the second infant daughter born to her and Wang Lung? To what extent does O-lan’s cultural and economic context lessen what might otherwise appear to be a horrible and unforgivable crime?
3. Why does Wang Lung endure his uncle’s demands?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. How does Buck satirize Western Christian missionaries in the novel?
2. What does Wang Lung’s family’s gradual disconnection from the land say about their moral position and their hopes for future success? Explain what you think happens to Wang Lung’s family after the close of the novel.
3. How are Wang Lung and his oldest son alike? Given the similarities in their characters, why do they come into conflict?
4. Why does Wang Lung decide to move into the Hwang family’s house in town? What does such a move signify for him?
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