But Wang Lung thought of his land and pondered this way and that, with the sickened heart of deferred hope, how he could get back to it. He belonged, not to this scum which clung to the walls of a rich man’s house; nor did he belong to the rich man’s house. He belonged to the land and he could not live with any fullness until he felt the land under his feet and followed a plow in the springtime and bore a scythe in his hand at harvest.
This quotation from Chapter 14 depicts when Wang Lung, now in the city, looks back on his land with longing. His connection to the simple life of the earth has been affirmed by his time in the poverty-stricken urban chaos of the city. This quotation is important because it shows Wang Lung thinking in terms of economic comparisons. He has always had a tendency to think of money, but this tendency has been strengthened by his experience of acute poverty in the city. His longing for the tangible connection to his land provided by the plow and scythe—the symbols of planting and harvest, and of effort and reward—also indicates the acute loneliness he feels.