There was only this perfect sympathy of movement, of turning this earth of theirs over and over to the sun, this earth which formed their home and fed their bodies and made their gods . . . Some time, in some age, bodies of men and women had been buried there, houses had stood there, had fallen, and gone back into the earth. So would also their house, some time, return into the earth, their bodies also. Each had his turn at this earth. They worked on, moving together—together—producing the fruit of this earth.
This quotation from Chapter 2 describes Wang Lung’s and O-lan’s connection to the land. Buck emphasizes the cyclical nature of the earth. The repeated motions of “turning this earth of theirs over and over” parallels the image of people, homes, and fortunes rising up and falling back into the earth over and over again. This quotation is important as an early explanation of Wang Lung’s ethical and spiritual connection to the land, and also as an emphasis on the recurring motif of the earth’s permanence compared to the fleeting lives and fortunes of human beings.