Wang Lung's children wanted to sell his land and Hwang's family also declined. I wonder why rich family often lost their fortune that easily. Is the same thing that gave rise to the tragedy to the two families? How did the society at that time contribute to the tragedy?
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One day Wang Lung overhears his sons speaking of selling the land to the new railroad that is set to come into town. Wang Lung angrily declares, "Out of the land we came and into it we must go -- and if you will hold your land you can live -- no one can rob you of land" (357). The sons soothe the old man with promises that they'll never sell the land. However, "over the old man's head they looked at the other and smiled" (357).
Wang Lung's children place no value on the land. They are used to having money and simply want more. The boys have no intention of being farmers like their father; they have different interests, and they have discord amongst their families when everyone is staying in the same house (their wives hate each other)
Hwang's family lost their home because of gluttony and living beyond their means. Lord Hwang treasured women and luxury above all else. He squandered his money. Like Hwang, Lung also had an increasing interest in fine things and women. O-lan was no longer beautiful to him even though she was the main reason he'd acquired his wealth. She simply becomes the 'mother of his children,' no more.
Tragedy struck in a variety of ways. The 'time' was filled famine, droughts, and floods, each of which provided set backs to the wealth of the families involved. Wang consistently struggled against poverty.
The Good Earth