Question from The Good Earth
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I hope this is what you are referring to,
As for his uncle, Wang Lung threatens to throw him and his family out of his house due to his son's rampant corruption. His uncle remains quiet, then shows Wang Lung a red beard and a length of red cloth. These are the signs of the Redbeards, a band of robbers that have been terrorizing people in the area. Wang Lung realizes that his property has been spared not due to the favor of the gods, but because his uncle is one of the bandits. There is nothing he can do to his uncle now; he can merely appease him. Wang Lung goes out of his way to make his uncle's family feel at home.