What is the summary for A House Divided?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A House Divided is a novel by Nobel-prize winning novelist, Pearl S. Buck, and the third book of her The House of Earth trilogy, following the fortunes of Wang Lung's family. Note that in Chinese, family names precede given names, and thus characters with the name "Wang -----" are members of the Wang family.

The novel exemplifies the genre of the Bildungsroman, portraying the coming of age of a young Chinese man Wang Yuan. It takes place during a period of revolutionary upheavals in China and shows the conflicting choices faced by the younger Chinese generation among three sets of values: traditional Chinese, revolutionary Chinese, and foreign.

Over the course of the novel, Yuan begins his education and falls in love with a revolutionary activist, but is betrayed by her. He flees to America (financed by money his family has borrowed -- although he does not know of the loan at the time) and studies in the US and learns foreign values. He has another relationship with Mary Wilson, but ends the relationship because he is not comfortable with the idea of a relationship with an inferior westerner and is still uncomfortable with western values.

He returns home, and various misfortunes befall his family, and he finds he has become, despite himself, somewhat westernized and alienated from his own roots, but eventually he finds happiness in marriage with Mei-ling, a woman who like himself exists between multiple worlds. They realize at the end that they have no need to adhere rigidly to any one set of cultural traditions but can live happily by adopting the best values from multiple traditions.

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