I think it is best to make the distinction that in The Good Earth, Wang Lung treats women in his family as if they are insignificant--they are not insignificant in and of themselves. For example, Wang Lung treats O-lan with much disregard especially as he becomes increasingly wealthy. Once he begins going to the tea house to see Lotus, he treats O-lan with more and more scorn. However, even though Wang Lung treats O-lan as though she is insignificant, she is a major figure in his life. He cannot forget that it was she who took the jewels that allowed them to move back to their home and buy land from the Hwangs. Further, he knows that from the beginning, O-lan was there to help him in the fields; even when she was pregnant, O-lan worked just as hard by his side. So she is certainly not an insignificant person even though Wang Lung treats her as such.