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The word "lan" in Chinese refers to "orchid." So O-lan's name is likely a derivative of this idea (which would go along with Lotus and Pear Blossom referring to flowers). It is ironic here that O-lan's name would relate to a flower that is highly regarded in Asia for it's delicacy and beauty. In the novel, O-lan is outwardly portrayed as the direct opposite of an "orchid": she is not pretty, her feet are not bound, and she works in the fields. However, O-lan is an amazing character for the quiet intelligence and inner beauty that she possesses, and in these ways she is much like an "orchid." O-lan is a woman to be desired for all the gifts that she holds, yet Wang Lung takes advantage of her graces and does not appreciate the true nature of O-lan's character.
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