"The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck

Wednesday 13 May 2009
by  Joanna F
popularity : 2%

"The earth lay rich and dark and fell apart lightly under the points of their hoes. Sometimes they turned up a bit of brick, a splinter of wood. It was nothing. 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 --- speechless in their movement together."

The story begins on Wang Lung’s wedding day, as he meets his wife O-lan for the first time. She is not a small, delicate lady as he would have liked, but a silent, big-boned, sturdy woman, who had once been a slave-girl in the village’s greatest house. Wang-Lung also is poor, though a kind, good-hearted Chinese farmer, who treasures his land as others treasure their lives. In the weeks that follow their marriage, both Wang Lung and O-lan work tirelessly in the fields to earn their living, reaping only enough to sustain their own pitiful lives. Months and years pass, O-lan gives birth to sons, and though they remain poor, there is still hope in their work and sustenance in the land they own. That is, until the famine comes.

With its rich vocabulary, its interesting plot, and its strong cast of characters, Pearl S. Buck’s novel well-deserves its Nobel Prize. The whole different culture and way of living illustrated in this novel will undoubtedly capture both teenage and adult readers from the very first pages, as they enter and discover a completely different world. The fact that it is a very well-written book, with imagery, precise vocabulary, and many figures of speech, enhances the book and brings the story to life.

Wealth, poverty, starvation and love weave a whirlwind of empathy, exaltation and elitism, that transports the reader to a faraway time and place. This book will surely be read, re-read and enjoyed for many more years to come.