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The Good Earth and Pearl Buck

The Good Earth and Pearl Buck

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The Good Earth and Pearl Buck

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  1. The Good Earth and Pearl Buck

  2. Main Characters – Wang Lung and O Lan Unforgettable Characters Sympathetic Flawed Not reducible to stock “type”

  3. Demystifying Chinese Customs • Examples: infanticide, foot-binding, and concubinage

  4. Shared Human Qualities

  5. Pearl Buck Background • Born in West Virginia in 1892 • Parents were missionaries in China • Father: strict, dominating • Mother: loving, kind

  6. Boxer Uprising Boxer Uprising Attack on foreigners in China Instability and resentment

  7. Early Education • Miss Jewell’s School in Shanghai • Volunteering at Door of Hope: a shelter for girls who had been sold into slavery and prostitution • College: Randolph-Macon’s Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia

  8. Marriages • Married 1917 • Cornell graduate • Agricultural expert • Lived in Anhwei bleak lives she saw there influenced her novel • Had daughter Carol who had a rare disease in 1920 • Adopted a total of 7 children • Divorced in 1935 • Remarried her publisher  Richard Walsh in 1935

  9. First Novels 1921 The Exile 1930 East Wind: West Wind Trilogy: The House of Earth 1931 The Good Earth Best Seller for two years Pulitzer Prize 1932 Sons 1935 A House Divided Nobel Prize, 1938

  10. China in Transition • Setting: Early 20th century (1900s) • Suspicious of western ideas • Missionaries streaming into China • Distrust of western intruders: Boxer Uprising • 1911: Qing Dynasty overthrown • Groups began competing for dominance: Nationalist party vs. Communist Party

  11. Realism, Naturalism, and the Chinese Literary Tradition • Literary realism: present accurate, detailed representations of ordinary people’s lives • Complex, three-dimensional characters • Clear, ordinary language • Objective, scientific point of view: socioeconomic, historical, and environmental factors • Chinese reliance on fortuitous events