The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck. Essay on how Wang Lung is in cnflict between his desires and his traditional values. Explains which characters are on each side of the conflict.

Essay by Durr182High School, 10th gradeA+, November 2002

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The Good Earth

Wang Lung is a very self-conscience character. Throughout the novel he makes his decisions based upon the thoughts of others rather than his own. Consequently, many characters contribute to Wang Lung's internal struggle between his desires and his traditional values.

In the opening of the novel Wang Lung has chosen a wife he has never laid eyes on. Before he was on his way to pick her up from the House of Hwang, he and his father had a discussion on what his wife should be like. Wang Lung in his heart wanted a beautiful woman and he thought, "It would be something to have a pretty wife that other men would congratulate him upon having" (8). His father did not want Wang Lung's wife to be beautiful, because he felt they were of no use and rarely ever a virgin. "We must have a woman who will tend the house and bear children as she works in the fields, and will a pretty woman do these things?"(8).

It was only right for a farmer to have an unattractive wife, with his father saying this, Wang Lung agreed.

When Wang Lung went to the barber so he could look worthy for his bride, the barber said to him, "This would not be a bad-looking farmer if he would cut off his hair. The new fashion is to take off the braid" (11). Since his braid was an important part of his family culture, Wang Lung cried out, "I cannot cut it off without asking my father!"(11) This reveals that his father contributed greatly to Wang Lung's decisions. Wang Lung was easily persuaded to cut of his braid by Lotus when she exclaimed, "Now the men of the south do not have these monkey tails!"(184).