The Good Earth's Character Sketch: Wang Lung

By definition, a character sketch is “a written description of a character in a story.” Character sketches usually focus on one event that happens in the novel but primarily counts on the writer’s ability to describe that event vividly. In the novel The Good Earth, the protagonist Wang Lung is described as a typical Chinese farmer living in semi-comfortable conditions but a farmer that always strives for wealth and an extravagant lifestyle.

It was a small three room house in the village of Anhwei and Wang lung woke up to the darkness of his bedroom. He wondered why this dawn was none like any other. With the aged surroundings, Wang heard his father’s cough from down the hall. It was his marriage day. He rushed diligently to pick out something presentable. While heating the water, Wang left his upper body bare and bathed himself because he hadn’t taken a shower since New Years. His darkened, slender body was dirty and rustic so he vigorously scraped the dirt off with a cloth.

Wang argued with his father later on about the house and spacious living style. “Now, how can two lone men need so much room? Cannot father and son sleep together? The warmth of the young one’s body will comfort the old one’s cough” (Buck 3). Wang was inquisitive with a side of concern. He wanted what was best for his father, no matter how small the space in his house was. Wang left the house and counted his money which was in a small, greasy pouch of grey cloths.

Wang traversed to the barber shop, and asked the barber to shave his head and face completely except his braid. Though it cost four pence extra for this haircut, Wang enjoyed the hot, soapy water lathered on his face. He walked broadly while the wind brushed his clean shaven skin and entered the House of Hwang; the place Wang would buy a woman slave. He felt sweat trickle down the surfaces of his body because he was nervous. He regretted the fact that he was alone and wished he could have taken his father. With confidence, he found the Old mistress Hwang, the wife of Lord Hwang and requested a woman slave. The “Ancient One” was very irritable but introduced Wang Lung to O-lan, the woman who was to bear him many children and obey his every command. Wang Lung carefully looked at O-lan and noticed her soft-spoken, calm tone of voice when she said, “Ready”. Six silver dollars and an abundance of copper coins surely was enough to buy O-lan.

Wang Lung exemplifies a broad man with a strict, traditional Chinese background. In the novel The Good Earth, Wang Lung married O-lan the slave owned by the House of Hwang and raised three sons with her in Anhwei.
Posted on June 14th, 2008 at 09:43pm

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