The Good Earth

The Value of Education in The Good Earth 11th Grade

Published in the early years of the Great Depression, Pearl Buck’s novel The Good Earth brought hope and encouragement to many people struggling economically. The main character, Wang Lung, rises from a Chinese farmer to a landowner and well-respected man with scholarly sons. One symbol in this book is education. This essay discusses the role that education plays in Wang Lung’s ascent from a poor farmer in the country to a rich man living in the House of Hwang in the village. Buck shows that in some places, hard work can be the only ticket to wealth, rather than education and knowledge.

The book does not try to show that education is worthless, but rather that it is not necessary if one has motivation and perseverance. There are advantages to being educated as Wang Lung finds out. He was unsure of whether the Lung character in his name referred to “the dragon character Lung or the deaf character Lung”. When he brought grain to market, he, who was a landowner, must ask common clerks to sign his name for him. He pondered, “[N]ot one of those town fools has a foot of land and yet each feels he can laugh a goose cackle at me because I cannot” read and write. “I will take my elder son…and he shall go to a school in the town and he...

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