Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Good Earth Study Guide

Chapter 25
Q: What are your thoughts on arranged marriages?
A: I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to arrange marriages. However, I wouldn't prefer it. I would like to pick my own husband. But back to arranged marriages...any two people can live together and be married their whole lives. Yes, it would take an unbelievable amount of work, but it's possible. It's also possible for people to learn to love whoever they need to learn how to love.

Q: Describe Wang Lung's prosperity in a Wordle.
Wordle: k.sonvoya

Image from Wordle!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Good Earth Study Guide Ch. 1-10

Chapter 1
Q: Wang Lung's marriage preparations reflect his social standing. What do you think about social classes? Should people spend outside their means for special occasions?
A: Back then, social class status was given to people. I think it's unfair. However, now, if a person is lazy, they deserve to be poor; if a person is hard working, they deserve to of the higher class. I believe that less fortunate people should be able to spend some extra money on something special, but why do they have to spend extra? The most precious thing anyone can get is good memories, and that's priceless.

Q: Why does Wang Lung struggle so much with the thought of having a plain wife? Unbound feet? Do you think his father's reasoning's about an ugly slave are wise? How important is an attractive spouse to you? Are you "holy" enough to date an ugly man or woman?
A: Wang Lung is a guy (or a human being for that matter). Enough said. I think that his father's reasonings are actually kind of smart because back then it seems that it was a true generalization. Of course, naturally, I don't want my husband to be ugly, BUT I think if I really love him, I won't care. I think that every one's gonna grow up to be fat and ugly anyway...so what does it matter? I have liked not-so-good-looking people before, so I would like to say that I am "holy" enough to date an ugly man. Haha...but I'm probably not.

Q: Wang Lung and his father do not degrade themselves by speaking to or addressing O-lan directly. Is this still true today? They also complain about spending and the food -- why? Are those good enough reasons?
A: I'm not sure about China, but I'm pretty sure this isn't still true today in Hawaii or America. I think they complain about spending and the food because they have pride, and to say that a woman is doing something well is too high of a compliment for a "foolish woman."

Q: List the things that Wang Lung is impressed with in his new wife.
A: She can prepare food just like how they'd eat in the "great house".

Q: How is sex perceived in this first chapter?
A: It is perceived as a link to man and his wife. I thought it is also a special time because they were both virgins.

Q: What do you think about set gender roles in the home? Should the wife work the kitchen? Should the man support his family financially? Have roles shifted today? If so, why?
A: The feminist side of me says that it's sexist, but biblically, I think that it's okay to have "set" gender roles in the home. A woman is supposed to prepare food for her family. She doesn't only have to work in the kitchen though. I would like a man who rakes in more money than I do--just so he's more "the head" than I am. Roles have shifted majorly today compared to how it was back then. I think one of the reasons why it has shifted is because men haven't been doing so well. They haven't been stepping up to do what God has called them to do. I also think that it's because women are rebelling against the our consequence of being under men.

Chapter 2
Q: Why is it important to Wang Lung that his wife like him? Why is he ashamed to feel what he does? Is that gender specific? Is it cultural?
A: It's because he wants to feel accepted by her. He's human; naturally, we all want to feel accepted by our peers. Despite the fact that he culturally shouldn't feel like that, he has somewhat of a heart. I think that if anything, women nowadays try to show that they don't need a man even though they do.

Q: How much value do you place on common sense and hard work? Is it important to you that your spouse have both?
A: Honestly, I think I'd value my common sense a whole lot if I had some. I'm not sure how much I actually have. As for hard work, I like to think I am hard working, but I am naturally lazy. I hate to admit it, but I only work exceptionally hard on the things that I want and like. It is very important for my husband to at least be a hard worker. And if opposites are supposed to attract, I won't have to worry about him not having common sense.

Q: Respond to the first paragraph on page 31 about the earth.
A: The earth is a living creation. For Wang Lung and O-lan to feel rhythm and unison while working on the fields, it seems strangely normal. It says that they were moving silently together. "Actions speak louder than words," is given a whole other meaning.

Chapter 3
Q: Make a prediction of O-lan's time at the "great house".
A: I think O-lan being married to Wang Lung was a step up for her even though it was to a more poorer environment. Just by the way she felt so smug that she could show off her son, you can tell that it wasn't a good life for her. I think that she was fed well, but no one paid much attention to her, and she was also beatened at times.

Q: What privileges do you think should be given the firstborn?
A: I might be a hypocrite to say this (because I'm the firstborn), but I believe that the firstborn should be treated equally amongst all the other children. I think "privileges" should be given to the level of maturity a person has, not because he or she are older tan the rest. Age is but a number.

Q: Wang Lung gives O-lan one more piece of silver than she asks for. Why the generosity? And why is giving this money painless for the first time?
A: I think that Wang Lung is more emotional than he should be back then. I think it's because he feels overwhelmed with emotion that O-lan can actually see their baby clothed (and also a boy). I think it was painless because it was the first kind gesture that he did for someone else (O-lan and his baby). Giving is better than receiving.

Q: Is O-lan a remarkable woman in her simplicity and quietness as she gives birth? Or is she emotionally and painfully stunted?
A: O-lan is a remarkable woman whether or not she gave birth quietly or not. I can't believe that she stopped during the time of her labor to make dinner for her grouchy father in law. I think the way she did it by herself and also quietly makes her one strong kind of woman.

Q: List the customs that are shared with the birth of a son.
  • Buy a basketful of eggs

  • Dye the eggs red

  • Get red sugar for the mother

  • Have friends and family over

Chapter 4
Q: What is the importance of O-lan's milk? From a medical point, how important is breast milk?
A: O-lan's milk is what was keeping their daughter alive. Breast milk helps the baby's digestive system--helps to digest it easier. It also bonds the mother and child together more.

Q: What do you think of frugality? Does money burn a hole in your pocket?
A: I think frugality should be highly exercised on many levels such as money, food, and time. God directed us to be good stewards of everything we have. Once a year I will burn a hole in my pocket to buy new clothes after I empty out my closet. I really have to be in the mood though (sometimes my pake side comes out).

Q: What would you attribute their good fortune to?
A: Simply, to their hard work. Hard work comes from success.

Chapter 5
Q: Think of Wang Lung's prosperity in comparison to the rest of the village (consider the previous chapter as well). Is he stingy or wise?
A: He is most definitely wise. In order to be rich, money has to be saved and accumulated.

Q: What are Wang Lung and O-lan proud about?
A: I think they were proud because they got to walk back into that house with their heads and spirits high. It must have just been the best smug feeling in the world. They had much to be proud about like having a healthy SON for a firstborn.

Q: Are Wang Lung and O-lan happy?
A: I believe they are.

Chapter 6
Q: What is the land a sign of and symbol for?
A: Land is a sign of wealth to them. Having land is like the key to look prosperous and successful.

Q: Is Wang Lung a heartless man for not giving his wife respite after the birth of their second son? Does O-lan enable him to justify what he does by what she does?
A: Yes, very heartless. I think he is thoroughly impressed though because I'd think by this time, he realizes that she's a lot more tougher than he is.

Chapter 7
Q: Consider the generational respect Wang Lung gives to his uncle. Should respect and authority be earned or simply demanded with age?
A: Respect should naturally be given to the "elders" of the family, but only the ones who take care for the safety and well-being of others. I think respect should be shone all around, not just because a person is old.

Q: What is your personal philosophy on loaning money? Why?
A: I'll loan a dollar here and there (I'll mostly ask to borrow); I'll never loan large sums of money now (since I don't have a lot of money now). I think that money should only be loaned to people who can be trusted to pay it back. I, personally, do not like the idea of letting people "borrow" my money because I am a very greedy person. However, I do believe that God tells us to help people who are in need. If that's what he says, then so be it.

Q: Should we take care of our relatives the way Wang Lung does for his uncle's family? What about when you know the cause for their situation is laziness or addiction?
A: We should...to an extent. We should help where help is needed. However, I think that helping someone like Wang Lung's uncle isn't necessary. Sometimes actions just have to have bad consequences, and grace shouldn't always be given.

Chapter 8
Q: What are your thoughts on O-lan killing the ox instead of Wang Lung?
A: "WIMP!" It's things like this that started the roots of feminism (just joking).

Q: How important are your basic needs? Sleep? Eating well? Exercise?
A: It seems as, for the past nine weeks, my basic needs have been highly neglected. My sleep has been minimum; my diet not watched; and exercising has no place for thought in my everyday goings. I guess that's what Fall Break is for. :)

Q: Why does O-lan speak here and not Wang Lung?
A: She felt a need to defend her family and their belongings.

Chapter 9
Q: Was it merciful to end the child's life? Is that infanticide? Acceptable? Cultural?
A: I didn't know until I read this question that O-lan killed the baby. In a way, it is merciful, but I don't think that it's the right thing to do. It would have been different if the child was a boy. So no, it's not acceptable.

Q: Would you have sold the land? Is it really about the land or was it because it was highway robbery?
A: It was highway robbery. I would have (and I think Wang Lung would have) sold the land if it was bought for a higher price.

Chapter 10
Q: "Then there was always distrust of that which one did not know and understand."
A: There are thieves everywhere. It's hard to say to trust everyone because everyone isn't trustworthy.

Q: "It is not well for a man to know more than is necessary for his daily living" (Buck, p. 97)
A: Why not? Why shouldn't man be able to have possibilities and dare to dream? With God, man can achieve so much, and to know that, comes the act of either taking initiative to do those things or not.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Personal Response to The Good Earth

I love it. It's a very relaxing read; I enjoy feeling the same emotions of Wang Lung and O-lan. The nervousness of the wedding day--the excitement of hearing news of O-lan's pregnancy--the anticipation of what the hours of labor would bring--and the satisfaction of content when the young couple walking back into the House of Hwang, their heads held high. The vernacular of the time amuses me. It's childish of me, I know, but I laugh every time I read the word "man-child". It has never occur ed to me that a boy is really just a man-child, and later on when the boy supposedly matures, the "child" of "man-child" is dropped. Surprisingly, I wasn't offended by the lack of respect for the women during this time period. I feel only sad and heart-broken that Wang Lung and O-lan think they can't have a deeply emotional relationship even when they so want to. I'm thoroughly excited to read the rest of the book, to see if maybe their relationship will turn into actual love one day.