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In Chapter One of Pearl S. Buck's novel The Good Earth, the reader is introduced to the antagonist, Wang Lung, and his father. Wang Lung is preparing to go collect his bride from the House of Hwang that day. As he prepares travels by foot to the city to meet the woman, he remembers what his father had said about a wife when the prospect of marriage was discussed between them.
As a young man, Wang Lung naturally desired an attractive wife. His father, however, explained that physical beauty was not to be desired.
"...We must have a woman who will tend the house and bear children as she works in the fields, and will a pretty woman do these things? No, not a pretty woman in our house. We are farmers...Do you imagine a pretty woman will think your farmer's hands as pleasing as the soft hands of a rich man's son...?"
Once Wang Lung listened to what his father said, he realized that his father was right and had the best interests of them all at heart.
The passage indicating the "old man's" reasons for choosing a plain wife also reveals a great deal about his character. First, Wang Lung's father is wise; he is aware of the character and nature of others and does his best to make decisions that do not go against nature or to pretend that issues that exist do not need to be considered. His insightfulness is utilized to benefit the family of farmers, which suggests that farming is precious to him (later confirmed) and that he respects and appreciates the struggles the family must already endure, such as hard work and practicality versus frivolous spending. Wang Lung's father also clearly appreciates purity and moral integrity, which is shown in his apparent disdain for women who have been overly "friendly" with the young lords.
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