Wang Lung's Wedding day
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The chapter opens on Wang Lung's marriage day. It is a moment of great change in the house, previously inhabited only by Wang Lung and his elderly father. Today, a woman will arrive and take over many of the chores that Wang Lung has been performing daily since his mother passed away six years ago.
In preparation for the big day, Wang Lung gives his father water with tea leaves in the morning, an action that the old man sees as wasteful since tea leaves are like gold for humble farmers like them. Wang Lung also takes a full-bodied bath, another luxury, since water is very valuable to them. Nevertheless, he justifies this waste by later throwing the water over the earth and their crops.
Wang Lung has invited family and friends tonight for his marriage dinner. He thus goes to town to buy meat and produce. He counts every silver piece and pence. He then decides to have his head freshly shaven for tonight.
In this first chapter we are introduced to the farmer Wang Lung, the protagonist of the book. Wang Lung is a simple man; however, he has a desire for some of the finer things in life, for example, a pretty wife. He is anxious about meeting his new wife, and is very conscious of his appearance. For this reason he bathes his full body, wears his best robe, and has his head freshly shaven for the occasion.
Wang Lung's father notices all of his son's preparations and admonishes him on his apparent waste. However, he is also secretly pleased at the event that is taking place, and he enjoys drinking his tea, as well as the thought of having guests for dinner.