The Good Earth – Guiding Questions

  1. In the New Testament, Mark 8:36 reads, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Describe incidents when Wang Lung “gains the whole world” as a successful farmer and landowner, but “forfeits his soul” as a husband and a father. In your conclusion, explain whether he redeems himself by his actions in his old age.
  2. The Good Earth depicts women as carefully negotiating the male-dominated world of the novel, achieving status and power when they can but never outrightly contradicting the misogyny expressed by the men in the book. Describe with specific examples from the novel ways that O-lan, Lotus, and Pear Blossom achieve status and power.

3. The central theme for the novel The Good Earth is the relationship between people and the land. Please write your best descriptive paragraph for each of the following terms in regards to this theme. Remember to give examples and use figurative language as much as possible: Constancy, Prosperity, Nourishment, and Ancestry.


These essay questions are posted to Concordiapad, where we can collaboratively collect textual evidence and observations.

I will give you class time, but please visit on your own. You may draw from these notes when you write your own essay.

Question 1 – Wang Lung’s success

Question 2 – Women in Society

Question 3 – Relationship with the Earth


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