What is the emotionally complex relationship that Wang Lung develops with the city in The Good Earth?  

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Good Earth, Wang Lung is both fascinated and repulsed by life in the city.  He and his family live in extreme poverty and must try to get handouts of food among so many others who are starving.  There is little work, so O-lan and the children have taken to begging in the streets.  Wang Lung takes a job pulling a rickshaw, and through this job he has a window into the richer parts of the city.  The customers who hire him toss money around frivolously, and one even tells him that he should not work so hard.  Wang Lung is disgusted by the socioeconomic disparity that is so obvious in the city, but at the same time, he is fascinated by the lives of the rich.  He wishes that he were able to see inside the homes of the rich, and he secretly longs to have money like they do.  Wang Lung is troubled by the complex, contrasting feelings that he has about the city, and when it is time for him and his family to leave to return to his land, he is grateful to be going home.