How does the gateman at the House of Hwang take advantage of Wang Lung?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wang Lung approaches the House of Hwang as naive to the world.  Wang Lung is not wealthy and does not have much to his name.  His initial approach to the House of Hwang is peppered with his own insecurities.  Wang Lung does not approach the House of Hwang as a confident, traditional prospective son- in- law.  Rather, he approaches with a timid and uncertain sense about him.

The gateman is far more knowledgeable of the world than Wang Lung is.  He is able to assess Wang Lung rather quickly and be able to assert his own advantage over him.  It is in this context where the gatekeeper exerts leverage on Wang Lung.  When Wang Approaches the gatekeeper for entrance, the emotional dynamics present themselves for Wang is reticent, the gatekeeper confident:

At last, Wang Lung said with anxiety,  "Shall I go alone?"

The gatekeeper affected a start of horror.  "The old lord  would kill you."  Then, seeing that Wang Lung was too innocent, "A little silver is a good key."

This is where the gatekeeper at the House of Hwang takes advantage of Wang Lung.  He sees that "Wang Lung was innocent."  He is able to exact a bribe from Wang Lung because he senses his power over him.  Even when Wang Lung says he is poor, the gatekeeper searches through his basket and belongings in order to get what he wants.  This exchange highlights how those who are poor are taken advantage of by those in the position of power.  It also sets the stage for control and exploitation of those who are weaker as a necessary condition for existence in the story's context. The gatekeeper able to take advantage of Wang Lung is reflective of this condition of being in the world.