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Having gone from a poor farmer who eked a living from the earth to one who prospered, and then to a starving man who clung to that which had sustained him--his land--selling only part of it in order to survive, Wang Lung moves back after the Great Famine, and because he yet owns land, he is able to provide for his family. He acquires more and becomes wealth, but in his wealth he becomes arrogant and selfish, even acquiring a mistress whom he moves into his enlargened house. When he becomes disenchanted with Lotus, his mistress, because she disparages his family, Wang Lung returns to the fields; working in them makes him again feel close to the earth. He understands the tangible value as the well as the spiritual of physical labor in tillining the soil.
His sons, however, do not understand the connection of man with the earth. Later, after the deaths of his father and wife and the attained adulthood of his sons, Wang Lung moves into the inner courts of the House of Hwang. But, there is much conflict among members of the family. Marauding bandits arrive, lead by Wang Lung's uncle's son; with this tension, Wang Lung offers the young man a mistress which helps to placate him some. Still, Wang Lung can find no peace, so he returns to his land where he live out the remainder of his days in peace. Pear Blossom tries to warn him about the older sons' ambitions, but he cannot understand and forgets when he looks out onto his land, which has always saved him. One day he hears his first two sons discussing a plan to sell the land.
Hearing these foreboding words, Wang Lung cries out, "Now, evil, idle sons--sell the land!" Quickly, they assuage him, "No--no--we will never sell the land--" They hold him tightly as he tightly holds the land. Again, they reassure him; but, over his head they look at each other and smile.
Clearly, they have no intention of obeying their father as they do not feel the visceral connection of man and land as does Wang Lung, for they have not watered the earth with their sweat and tears as he has. With this very emotive final paragraph Pearl S. Buck certainly underscores her theme of the love of land; for "to lose connection with the land is to lose connection with life."
Pearl S. Buck's emotional ending certainly appeals to the heart of the reader as well as suggesting that to think that the land is the source of life is unequivocably correct. This coud, perhaps, fall under the propaganda technique of emotional appeal.
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