Essential Question Finally Answered

Does O-lan speak much? How does she usually respond in conversation? What might this mean about how women were expected to communicate?

In the book, The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, it is set in China in the early 1920s. A man named Wang Lung, the main character, is taking care and supporting his dear old father. He is just around the age to marry a mistress from the House of Hwang and gets all dapper to meet her. From then, they make a living by growing crops on their farmland. With a few children born along the way, and famine had struck their land, they had to move West. With small complications of his Uncle, they then had more children and eventually settled in. Then anger strikes, when Wang Lung brings a mistress, Lotus, into the household; O-lan wasn’t too pleased. In the end, Wang Lung’s father passes along with O-lan, and the oldest boys inherit all the money. In the meanwhile, O-lan’s character was made up to be a very hard driven woman. Ever since she set foot in the House of Hwang, she always did what she was told to do. She was very quiet, shy, and never complained. During this period of time, the Chinese women were solemnly only to be wives and mothers. There were arranged marriages where the men would take a girl as his own once she turned around the age 18, to be his spouse. Women were to care for the man and raise a family. In O-lan’s case, she did whatever to please her husband to avoid any consequences. In conversation she usually responds with a clear understanding towards what she is told to do. She simply says “yes” to everything. She isn’t the type of person to turn back and ask questions, she just gets the work done because that is what she has been taught to do her whole entire life. All women in this time have no rights. Men had the authority to overpower the women. There was no equality between genders. The ideal woman for men was to be kind, sensitive, nurturing, and caring.  This gave men the opportunity to use women for pleasure as well. Some men would even ask for multiple concubines to keep them happy, even though they already had a wife. Women had no way to stand up for themselves because of the fear of being disowned. Most women that lived in the House of Hwang were whipped if they did the slightest thing wrong. O-lan had been very embarrassed of her past. The men even went to the extent where they made the women have their feet binded. This became a natural thing as the men wants their loving spouses to have tiny feet. This turned into a learning process for women. They had to train themselves to walk with their new tiny feet. Olan never got her feet binded, so that would always bug her husband, Wang Lung. Back then, most women had to keep their mouths shut and just listen. This kind of communication was great for the men telling them what should get done, but with little to nothing being said in response, the woman would sometimes get over worked. With barely any education and no health care to support themselves, they had to raise the children and do work on their own. When O-lan birthed all her babies, she didn’t ask for any help, because she knew that she could do it all on her own. This book, taught that there was a revelation within women. Women could prove of doing various tasks just as well as the men could. Pearl S. Buck set a perfect example for readers in the 1930s to be prepared for the future.

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