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In The Good Earth, the poor laborers in the city lack knowledge even of what they look...

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angryem | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 19, 2010 at 2:47 PM via web

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In The Good Earth, the poor laborers in the city lack knowledge even of what they look like. How does a new self-awareness come to mainfest itself?

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cetaylorplfd | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 19, 2010 at 7:29 PM (Answer #1)

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In The Good Earth, Wang Lung and his family have had to move south to look for food and work.  In the city, Wang Lung joins the masses of poor laborers who are also looking for a way to sustain themselves.  He takes on a job as a rickshaw driver, and during his travels, Wang Lung sees parts of the city that have been unknown to him.  He sees the wealth that is abundant and readily available to the rich and to the foreigners who are in the city.  But the poor laborers lack knowledge of what keeps them apart from the rich, and soon, propaganda starts to circulate around town to inform the laborers about capitalism.  Wang Lung sees flyers that have disturbing pictures on them such as a fat man stabbing a man who is dead.  He cannot read and does not understand how to interpret the picture (a symbol of capitalism "killing" the poor).  Soon the propaganda takes effect and talk of fighting begins.  The laborers learn that war is coming and then the soldiers appear.  Wang Lung understands that he is of a lower class and he wants to make more money, but he never truly understands the issues of the revolution like others do.  So, propaganda is the means by which the laborers come to a new self-awareness.

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