The Good Earth
1931, United States
Literary, historical fiction
Approx. 137,000 words
Notable lines and passages
It was Wang Lung's marriage day. At first, opening his eyes in the blackness of the curtains about his bed, he could not think why the dawn seemed different from any other.
"Now, five years is nothing in a man's life except when he is very young and very old..."
He took his life from the earth; drop by drop by his sweat he wrung food from it and from the food, silver. Each time before this that he had taken the silver out to give to anyone, it had been like taking a piece of his life and giving it to someone carelessly. But not for the first time, such giving was not pain. He saw, not the silver in the alien hand of a merchant in the town; he saw the silver transmuted into something worth even more than life itself—clothes upon the body of his son.
"When the rich are too rich there are ways, and when the poor are too poor there are ways.... When the rich are too rich there is a way, and if I am not mistaken, that way will come soon."
"Out of the land we came and into it we must go—"
And they soothed him and they said over and over, the elder son and the second son,
"Rest assured, our father, rest assured. The land is not to be sold."
But over the old man's head they looked at each other and smiled.