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What is the main setting of The Good Earth, and why is it significant?

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nohemi16 | Student, Grade 11

Posted October 27, 2010 at 9:41 AM via web

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What is the main setting of The Good Earth, and why is it significant?

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

Posted June 29, 2011 at 9:54 PM (Answer #1)

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The setting in The Good Earth is not specifically named in the novel, but the reader does know that the story mainly takes place in rural China on Wang Lung's farm.  The plot of land seems to have been in Wang Lung's family for some time because Wang Lung has a particular affinity for his land.  The farm must be in central or northern China because later in the story, the family must "go south" to the city to avoid starving on the failing land.  Once Wang Lung becomes wealthy, he buys the land on which the former House of Hwang sits, and he moves his family from the farm into the big house.  But Wang Lung still goes to his farm to oversee the work there, so it must be nearby.

The setting of the story that revolves around Wang Lung's farm is significant to the story because the land serves as a symbol for Wang Lung's beliefs in hard work and independence.  Even when times are tough, he vows to never sell his land because he believes that his land is the foundation of his identity.  When the family starts to have trouble and his sons persuade him to sell land, the reader understands the extent of Wang Lung's internal conflict because the land is so important to him.

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