It was nostalgic reading this book. I felt like I was transported back to my college days when my professor would require us to read a classic novel and I would oblige begrudgingly not knowing that I would end up appreciating the novel. Nobody required me to read The Good Earth though but it was strongly recommended by a newfound friend and I wanted to challenge my reads so I decided to go for it.
The book was written like a tale, and as most tales, it is a moral story and has a very universal appeal. Much of the events are highly symbolic. It wouldn’t matter what your race is, I think anyone who reads this will be able to relate with the characters, their beginnings, their small and huge achievements, acquiring land they never dared dream of, their struggles, and eventually of their end and how much of Wang Lung and O-lan‘s life revolved around their much coveted land, ‘the good earth.’
The book also touched a lot of issues like gender inequality, oppression, slavery, most of which have been suffered and experienced by O-lan who is a figure of great strength and resilience even till her death and I couldn’t help but appreciate the lives of the many women who suffered a great deal when women didn’t have much rights. O-lan is mostly the reason why I liked the book and why I decided to persevere despite the writing even though beautifully descriptive and also hilarious at certain places…
“And what will we do with a pretty woman? We must have a woman who will tend the house and bear children as she works in the fields, and will a pretty woman do these things? She will be forever thinking about clothes to go with her face!”
“Now will you be so polite as to fall on your face like this before the Old Mistress?”
…is also a little verbose and bordering into apathetic. I also felt really bad that Wang Lung’s emotional capacity has degraded over the years. I thought from their vast experience, he would have learned to really love O-lan. So sad. The author is trying to make it real though, I understand that.
But overall, I would still see this book as a literary masterpiece reminiscent of two of my favorite classics, ‘The Pearl’ by John Steinbeck and the short story, ‘Wedding Dance’ written by Amador Daguio, a Filipino author.