In the twentieth century China, a determined farmer goes through many hardships and sacrifices to provide his family a better life. In Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth, Wang Lung, the proud father of three sons, does not always comprehend the choices the younger generation chooses because he had a much harder life while he was growing up compared to his sons. With Wang Lung s own strength and his faithful wife supporting him, they was able to come out of poverty and into the life of good fortune. All his sons are living the glorious life filled with riches and exotic foods which caused them to become spoiled. While Wang Lung lived in poverty while he was growing up and this made him appreciate the things he had.
Wang Lung did not understand why his oldest son began behaving so oddly and that frightened him. His oldest son became moody, picky when it came to food, and finally stopped attending school. Wang Lung grew angry when his son did not attend school and started discipline him in hopes of solving this issue. The protagonist does not understand why his son is behaving like this because when [I] was a lad [I] had no such melancholy and no such weepings and tempers, and no slaves, either (235). Wang Lung's son is too accustomed to his lifestyle and does not show any appreciation to his father for providing all of this for him. Instead, he becomes spoiled, idle, bratty, and want even more in life. Wang Lung wouldn't understand what his son is going through because he never had this luxurious life. His next son is easier to handle, but he doesn't understand him well either.
Wang Lung's second son becomes an age to become married, and Wang Lung assumes his son would like a wife from a wealthy family like his older brother. The protagonist visits his son, who is working at an grain shop, to talk about marriage. His sons confronts to his father that he does not want a wife from a house in town, such as [my] brother has, for she will talk forever of what was in her father's house and make me spend money and it will be an anger to me (311). Wang Lung is astonished by what his son said because he did not realize that all his sons have different taste in things. He had misunderstood his second son by believing his son would like what his brother likes. Also, he comes to a realizations that his son is indeed cleaver and knows how to spend money wisely. Overall, it looks like Wang Lung has solved his two sons problems temporarily, but his last son s problem will forever remain unsolved.
Wang Lung's last son turns out to be the son he could not comprehend at all with and that freighted him the most. The protagonist youngest son wants to become a solider after listening to all the glorious stories the soldiers told him when they stayed at their home. Wang Lung becomes displeased to hear his son wanting to be, of all the things he can become, a solider. He had already made plans for his youngest son to become a farmer that will take care of his land when he passes away. His father can not relate to his son's thoughts and his son exclaim, "you do not understand-you are too old-you understand nothing!" (362). In the end, Wang Lung still would never truly understand his sons especially his youngest son. His last son feels like he can not communicate with his father and that his father will never be able to understand the younger generation.
Wang Lung may have faced many obstacles to achieve the wealth he has now, but even in the end, his relationship with his sons will quickly deteriorate as time goes by. The problems that arise by his sons were only solved temporary, but theses problems will arise again after the death of him. In the end, Wang Lung only solved his oldest and second sons problem by either disciplining or providing a wife, but the problem he had with his youngest son will remain unsolved. His sons are too accustomed to their lifestyle which makes them takes things for granted. The greatest regret Wang Lung would have is that he never discipline his sons to give respect to the elders and to appreciation what they have. Wang Lung worked hard to provide his family a better life, but soon everything he created will be destroyed by his sons.