Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck


The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck


My father has had this book on his bookshelves for a long time, along with some other Pearl S. Buck books. I’m a huge fan of Buck’s book, Imperial Woman, about the last empress of China, but I’ve never read any of her other books.


Apparently, The Good Earth is her most popular book, and after many years of re-reading Imperial Woman, I’ve finally decided to read The Good Earth.


The Good Earth is about a poor Chinese farmer, Wang Lung, who works hard and believes in investing in the land. He faces terrible challenges; famine, poverty, hunger, pestilence, but his wife and family supports and helps him through it all.


Eventually, his hard work pays off, and he becomes a wealthy landowner, and then there are a whole lot of new challenges he has to face.


What I really like about the way Buck portrays Wang Lung, is that he’s human, with very human tendencies, just like everyone of us. We like to think that we’re better and different from everyone else, and that we’d make better choices. Hypothetically, we always do, but when actually put in the situation, we don’t even see clearly enough to recognize the situation, much less make good choices.


This is a simple yet thought-provoking book. It takes a humorous look at human nature, yet at the same time shows how fallible humans are, and how tragic life can be. If I had known how much I’d enjoy this book, I would’ve read it much earlier, but then again, I believe in a way, I’m much better equipped now to understand the book better than if I read it years ago.


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