Similar to the Catholic religion, which states in commandment number five to “honor thy father and mother”, in Confucian ideals filial piety is one of the virtues to be held above all else: a respect for the parents and ancestors. In Pearl S. Buck’s, The Good Earth, filial piety is demonstrated through the relationships among Wang Lung and his father, his uncle, and his sons.
The Good Earth is first introduced with a relieved Wang Lung on his wedding day. Relief towards the freedom that will begin as a result of his marriage; Lung will no longer have to slave to his father’s needs. With this, one can surmise Lung’s opinion towards filial piety. In addition, Lung exhibits his compliance towards serving his duties as a son in his display of strength when he carries his weakened father towards the south during the famine and in his continuation of maintaining honorability to his father after his death.
Filial piety not only avows respect toward the parent, but rather to all elders and especially family. Lung’s uncle, wily crook and thief, constantly exploits Wang Lung’s adherence to traditional Chinese codes of conduct. Since the uncle is a member of the older generation, Lung is obliged to show him value and give him support in difficult times, despite his despicable temperament. In the novel, Lung displays that he would much rather completely disregard his uncle, but because of his concern towards the embarrassment that he would be serving under Chinese culture, Lung represses himself from doing so.
Lung exemplifies, throughout the novel, his connection to Chinese tradition, even while longing prosperity and innovation, whereas his sons display no interest in what is thought to be quaint and passé principled ideas. His sons, mainly the eldest, exhibit that they are to reside for themselves. It is made clear, at the end of The Good Earth, that Lung’s sons do not maintain the true belief in filial piety that Lung was raised with. Their disregard for the needs...