The novel helped prepare Americans of the 1930s to consider Chinese as allies in the coming war with Japan. 1932, the good earth online pdf by the father and son playwriting team of Owen and Donald Davis, but it was poorly received by the critics, and ran only 56 performances.
Meanwhile, Wang Lung, through his own hard work and the skill of his wife, O-Lan, slowly earns enough money to buy land from the Hwang family, piece by piece. Her father greatly pities her and calls her “Poor Fool,” a name by which she is addressed throughout her life. O-Lan kills her second daughter at birth to spare her the misery of growing up in such hard times, and to give the remaining family a better chance to survive. During the devastating famine and drought, the family must flee to a large city in the south to find work. Wang Lung’s malevolent uncle offers to buy his possessions and land, but for significantly less than their value. The family sells everything except the land and the house. Wang Lung’s father begs but does not earn any money, and sits looking at the city instead.
They find themselves aliens among their more metropolitan countrymen who look different and speak in a fast accent. Wang Lung longs to return to his land. When armies approach the city he can only work at night hauling merchandise out of fear of being conscripted. One time, his son brings home stolen meat. Furious, Wang Lung throws the meat on the ground, not wanting his sons to grow up as thieves. O-Lan, however, calmly picks up the meat and cooks it.
Wang Lung is swept up in a mob that is looting a rich man’s house and corners the man himself, who fears for his life and gives Wang Lung all his money in order to buy his safety. Meanwhile, his wife finds jewels in a hiding place in another house, hiding them between her breasts. Wang Lung uses this money to bring the family home, buy a new ox and farm tools, and hire servants to work the land for him. In time, the youngest children are born, a twin son and daughter. When he discovers the jewels O-Lan looted from the house in the southern city, Wang Lung buys the House of Hwang’s remaining land. O-Lan endures the betrayal of her husband when he takes the only jewels she had asked to keep for herself, the two pearls, so that he can make them into earrings to present to Lotus. O-Lan’s morale suffers and she eventually dies, but not before witnessing her first son’s wedding.