This book has literally been sitting in my room for years. My grandmother got it for me a while ago and told me it was a classic. I had never even opened the cover. It was always there though. A piece of the clutter that I only occasionally rediscovered when I was looking for something else.

I figured that today would be a good day to actually investigate Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth. Why today? Well because it’s Earth Day. Or at least, that’s what Google told me when I clicked on the doodle.

The Good Earth is a 1931 novel about a Chinese family as the struggle to survive during a famine. The story begins on Wang Lung’s wedding day. Wang Lung’s wife-to-be, works at the house of Hwang, where she is enslaved. Over time, Wan Lung eventually makes enough money to buy some land from Hwang. Unfortunately, they soon encounter a devastating drought that forces the family to move to the city. The rest of the book follows the family through their trials and tribulations as the temptation of a comfortable life sometimes overwhelms their morals.

So in the end, the book is not really about the earth. It does show what a draught can do to people that rely on farming for a living, but the core of the story is really about more. It shows the side of the human struggle that no open really likes to think about. I believe that in general, people in comfortable financial positions will abide by their morals. They will do what they think is right as it does not burden them in some way. But what about when things get tough? That is the true measure of how strongly one believes in morality. That is when the really difficult decisions get made.

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6 responses »

  1. Paul Martin says:

    I actually read this book a long time ago for a class. I don’t distinctly remember the plot anymore, but I remember thinking that it was a really interesting book that described in amazing detail the ups and downs of a particular man’s/family’s life. I had forgotten about this book until I saw your post about it. Zach, if you are interested in getting the rest of the plot, there’s also a really old movie that actually does the book pretty good justice.

  2. Jordi says:

    So, is the title ironic? Or, is it about appreciating life depsite the trials and tribulations. By the way, do you ever have just ONE tribulation?

    • Zach says:

      I guess there is some irony in the title from what I’ve been able to surmise. The family ends up getting into some questionable situations (robbery for example) in order to survive. Obviously, they would not have considered doing such things had they not been in such a dire situation. I guess it’s really about doing what it takes to keep going when things get tough. Also, I’ve never heard of a single tribulation.

  3. Jordi says:

    That was a joke… tribulations… 😉

  4. scoutberger says:

    I think this is a great post Zach! What I find most interesting is your last paragraph where you talk about the human struggle. Many people at Bucknell are well off and don’t worry about their finances. That is a wonderful luxury that many people don’t appreciate. You discuss the topic of morals and making decisions. Do you think that it is ok for someone in a desperate situation to act immorally to save themselves and their family? Is it right to steal food if your family is starving? Where do you draw the line?

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