January 23, 2011
Living in a Man’s World
The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begin when the doctor says, “It’s a girl.” The judging and mistreatment of women has been apparent since the beginning of time. Although Pearl S. Buck did not voice her opinion of the oppression of women throughout her novel, she did make it a noticeable theme. Buck utilizes the oppression of women in traditional Chinese culture by contrasting two polar opposite women, using certain conflicts within the plot, and displaying symbols throughout The Good Earth.
Buck contrasts two different women to show the mistreatment of females in traditional Chinese culture. The first woman, O-lan, is considered ugly. Wang Lung knows he will receive an ugly wife, but only because that is what he can afford. Seeing her for the first time, he notices, “she had a square, honest face, a short broad nose with large black nostrils, and her mouth was as wide as a gash in her face…There was no beauty of any kind in her face” (20). He also notices her feet are not bound. Wang Lung treats O-lan poorly because he is unsatisfied with her appearance. She works in the field as a slave and births her children in a room, alone, without anyone’s help but her own. The second woman, Lotus Flower, is considered beautiful. She has tiny hands with painted fingernails, eyes the shape of apricots, fair skin, and feet “no longer than a man’s middle finger” (192), which pleases Wang Lung. He gives her everything her heart desires, and becomes bored with O-lan. By comparing O-lan and Lotus, Buck proves the mistreatment of women throughout The Good Earth.
To show the oppression of women in china, Buck displays certain conflicts in the plot of the novel. Wang lung hopes good fortune will come from marrying O-lan. They go to the temple to honor the gods and “…it was a moment of marriage. They stood there in complete silence, side by side, while the incense smoldered into ashes…” (22). O-lan...