Closely examine the brief incident described in chapter 14, in which Wang Lung encounters a Christian missionary. What image does it present of Christianity? Does the passage suggest that Christian missionary work in China is positive or negative? What reasons might Buck have had for presenting Christian missionary work in this light? Write an essay in which you present your analysis.
Obtain a copy of the 1937 movie version of The Good Earth and make a class presentation, with video clips if possible, of the main differences between the book and the movie. Take especial note of how O-lan is portrayed. Also consider why all the leading parts were taken by white rather than Chinese actors.
Consider some of the stereotypical ways in which Chinese and other Asian people were viewed by Americans during the twentieth century. Consider films and television programs. Why did the West cultivate such negative views of non-Western cultures? Make a class presentation in which you discuss such stereotypes and show how portrayals of Asians and Asian-Americans in the media today are more positive than in former times.
Team up with another student and make a class presentation in which you compare John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939) to The Good Earth. What themes do the two books have in common? Does Steinbeck’s book suggest a reason why The Good Earth was received so enthusiastically by American readers during the 1930s?
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