Good Earth: Moral Vs. Immoral Essay, Research Paper
The Good Earth: Moral vs. Immoral
In Pearl S. Buck?s The Good Earth, the main character, Wang Lung starts out as a poor farmer with a not-too-pretty wife, and a few kids. His dream is to one day possibly be rich. When drought makes him almost destitute, he is forced to move to a city to find quick work so his family can survive. While in the city he catches a glimpse at the rich and lavish lifestyle. He decides right then that he wants to be rich soon. But he does not realize that with money comes immoral temptation that can tear a family apart. He will be faced with a big moral vs. immoral decision involving his family as his wealth increases.
Wang Lung path to becoming rich starts with an immoral action. He steals gold from a rich man during a riot in the city. ?And the fat man rose to his knees, sobbing and gibbering, and feeling for the pocket of the robe, and he brought forth his yellow hands dripping with gold and Wang Lung held out the end of his coat and received it.? (Buck, page 99) From this point on, he is intent on becoming rich. He goes back to the land and aquires his wealth honestly through good land investments and planting more crops than he has ever planted before.
To his credit, Wang Lung makes a moral decision when he decides to help out his neighbor, Ching, who has been deeply affected by the drought. He is now starving, close to death, and has already lost his wife. Wang Lung gave him seeds to start over with, which he could not afford. Ching would have died if Wang Lung had not been kind to him. He shared his newfound fortune to save a friend?s life.
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As Wang Lung aquires more wealth, he becomes curious about wealthy ways of living. He caught a glimpse when he lived in the city, and now wants to live like a rich landowner, rather than a farmer. He visits a new teashop in town. At first he just drinks tea, but he is soon introduced to a new way of spending his money: whores. He meets a whore named Lotus, to whom he goes back many times. ?Every day he went to the tea shop; every evening he waited until she would receive him, and every night he went into her.? (Buck, page 130) He betrays his marriage with her. Having extra money to spend was a new concept to him, and it made him see what kind of lusts he could have. He gives in to moral temptation. At home, his wife, O-lan, is hurt deeply by Wang Lung?s actions and rejections. ??O-lan, who in the old days might have said to him easily enough, ?And why do you take the money from the wall,? now said nothing, only watching him in great misery, knowing well that he was living some life apart from her?? (Buck, page 134)
Wang Lung commits the ultimate moral crime against his wife and family when he buys this whore and brings her home. He rejects O-lan day after day, going to Lotus to care for her ?needs?. He builds on to his house a special room just for Lotus. He tries to get O-lan to serve her some, but she refuses. Lotus also causes him resentment against his son. When he sees his son talking to the whore, he becomes jealous and enraged and beats his son. Then he sends him away from the family.
Wang Lung does not realize his actions until his wife is dying. He feels guilty and remorseful for not loving her properly. ?Now, looking at her and the strange swelling she had on her body, he was stricken with remorse?? (Buck, page 181). Wang Lung finally realizes what he has done to her. He tries to make things better by paying good money for a doctor to heal her, but it is too late to heal her. He feels awful.
To acquire his happiness, Wang Lung has done some immoral things. First, he stole gold from a rich man to start his trek to wealth. Then he rejects his wife for a whore. He may have achieved happiness, but he made many immoral decisions. In the Wang Lung?s moral vs. immoral battles, immoral took more than moral. This hurt his wife, his son, and himself.