Read this article about a student from India’s thoughts on America: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-weirdest-things-about-america-2013-8
What from his list surprises you most?
Why did the author begin the novel by telling us that Nathan dies and that she adopts a boy who’s not related to her? What’s the point of giving away the ending? What other books or movies do you know that use this technique (i.e. structure the story this way)?
Another important theme in this novel is that family relationships are far more important than “stuff,” status, or even education. Rukmani describes her romantic partnership with her husband, her beautiful relationship with her daughter, and the tender relationship that forms between her and the boy she adopts (whose name she tells us in chapter 1 is Puli). What relationships mean the most to you in your life? Who in your family would you say you are closest to? Why is that relationship so important to you?
Consider the relationship Rukmani and Nathan have with their adult children. Does this seem typical of their culture? How is it similar to our culture? How is it different? How has your relationship with your parents changed now that you are only a couple years from adulthood?
One important theme in this novel is that suffering is a part of life, so we need to find healthy ways to deal with suffering and still find happiness despite it. Rukmani, Nathan, and Kenny all endure suffering in different ways. Which character’s attitude about suffering do you identify with the most? Why?
“Foolish woman,” Nathan said. “There is no going back. Bend like grass, that you do not break,” (ch. 4, p. 28). Do you think this is wise advice? Describe a time in your life something major changed for you (e.g. moving, family changes, new school, etc.). Did you react as Nathan advises or did you spend a lot of time yearning for the past?
Watch this two minute video: http://www.biography.com/people/pearl-s-buck-9230389#synopsis
Pearl S. Buck was said to be a “builder of bridges between China and the rest of the world.” What new information from the video did you learn about this novel's influence? What struck you about the culture in pre-Revolutionary China as presented by Buck in this novel? (Consider aspects of the culture such as religion, traditions, family life, and the relationship between rich and poor, men and women, and children and adults.)
What are your thoughts on "luck" or "fate," as this novel portrays it? How much responsibility do you think we have over what happens to us? Which character's attitude about luck vs. diligence do you relate to most in this novel?
It’s become pretty clear that Wang Lung’s sons are spoiled and ungrateful, especially the eldest. When he doesn’t get his way, he whines and complains until his father indulges him. As one author put it: “Ingratitude breeds unhappiness.” How have you seen this play out in your own life? If being spoiled (i.e. always getting what you want) makes a person unhappy, what’s the remedy for that unhappiness?
A prominent theme of The Good Earth is that people are created to work and to use their bodies in a way that allows them to see the fruits of their labor. When people lose connection to work, and when they become idle in their creativity, they lose connection to life and to others. Reread the last 3 paragraphs of chapter 21. It seems the only place Wang Lung feels free is when he is working his land. “Then a voice cried out in him, a voice deeper than love cried out in him for his land. And he heard it above every other voice in his life…”
First, do you agree with Buck’s theme that work is essential to happiness? Second, in what “work” (such as a job, a chore, a hobby, a creative task, etc.) do you find satisfaction?
*NOTE: Be sure to review the guidelines for responding to the Question of the Week (e.g. deep, detailed, complex responses) ----->
The whole purpose of this assignment - whether you're reacting to an idea, sharing your own story, or analyzing the reading - is to discuss the ultimate issues of life. With that in mind, make sure that in your response you: