World Cultural Geography

  1. “…The Good Earth endures because it reminds us once again, that despite our differences – in language, culture, and religion – there are certain qualities we share as humans.  In our increasingly fractured world, this is a lesson worth remembering.”  Name some of those qualities we share as humans.  Why is this a lesson worth remembering?  Elaborate…


  1. The novel begins with Wang Lung’s expectation of rain, the daily boiling of water for his father, and his bathing for his wedding.  What might this water imagery foreshadow?


  1.  If you could add a picture at this point in the story, what would you add?  Describe your picture?  Why would you choose this?


  1.  Write what you are thinking about the characters and events.


  1. How are the characters being affected by the events?  What causes this to happen?  Use examples from the text to support your answer.


  1.  Where is the story heading?  How do you interpret it?


  1.  What in the story has totally surprised you?  Why did you not see it coming?  What caused this surprising turn of events?  Is the story better/worse for it?


  1.  Why does Wang Lung feel compelled to purchase the rice field from the House of Hwang?  Why does he at first regret it?


  1.  “And so this parcel of land became to Wang Lung a sign and a symbol.”  What does the author mean by this?


  1.  Wang Lung considers the birth of his daughter to be a bad omen.  How does he come to regard this girl, who grows up to become a fool?


  1.  As the family works and begs in the city, what do they think of the foreigners they encounter?  What purpose does the author serve in including these descriptions?


  1.  The abundance of food in the city contrasts with the characters impoverished lives.  Discuss the emotionally complex relationship Wang Lung develops with the city.


  1.  The poor laborers in the city lack knowledge even of what they look like, a fact illustrated by the man who mocks himself in a mirror.  How does a new self-awareness come to manifest itself?


  1.  When Wang Lung becomes swept up with the mob and enters the rich man’s house, is the gold he receives there a curse or a blessing?  Do you feel any pity for the rich man?  What do you think the author intended you to feel?
  2.  After O’lan steals the jewels, do they function as a bad omen or good luck?  Why does O’lan want to keep the two pearls?  Why is Wang Lung so astonished by this?  What do the pearls signify?


  1.  What character do you feel influences the story the most?  What happens to this character to cause such impact?  Why does the author choose this particular character?


  1.  As O’lan dies, she bemoans her lack of beauty and says she is too ugly to be loved.  Wang Lung feels guilty, but still cannot love her as he did Lotus.  Neither woman can control destiny.  Lotus was an orphan who had been sold into prostitution because she was beautiful, and O-lan had been sold as a kitchen slave because she was plain.  For whom do you feel sympathy?  Why?


  1.  If you could change something in the story, what would it be?  Why would you want to change it?  How much would it change the original story?


  1.  How do you think the situations in the book have shaped/changed the characters?  Give specific examples.


  1.  Cite specific examples of comparison and contrast used in your book.  How did this affect the story?


  1.  Record your thoughts about the characters and events?  What causes you to feel this way?


  1.  Toward the end of the novel we encounter the belief that things will change “when the poor become too poor and the rich are too rich.”  Discuss the ambivalence of this statement—a mixture of both hope and despair—and how it reflects upon the whole of The Good Earth.


  1.  The New York Times stated that this book was “A comment upon the meaning and tragedy of life as it is lived in any age in any quarter of the globe.”  What do you think they meant by this?


  1.  The Pittsburgh Post Gazette said this novel was, “of the most important and revealing novels of our time.”  Do you agree or disagree with this statement?  Why or why not?