This is actually one of the more tragic events that occur in this book. After the birth of her latest child in this chapter, when Wang Lung goes into his wife's room to see how she is and how the baby is, O-Lan tells him that the girl child has died, with the simple word "dead." However, Wang Lung heard the baby cry after it was born, and so he is somewhat suspicious. When he takes the baby's body and sees two "dark, bruised spots" on the neck of his daughter, he understands that his wife, driven by desperation of the poverty and want that his family were facing, actually killed her own daughter to spare her a life of starvation and slow, grinding death. Wang Lung's response to this is a sign of the depth of his despair:
"It is better as it is," he muttered to himself, and for the first time was wholly filled with despair.
O-Lan therefore tries to conceal her murder of her child from Wang Lung by suggesting that her daughter died in childbirth.