Ching will darken Wang Lung's doorstep once more. Worn away to a shadow with a "death-like head", Ching whisper's through "lips dried and black as earth" that people in the village have resorted to eating human flesh to stay alive—including Wang Lung's uncle and his family. (p. 79) Frightened, Wang Lung decides to leave his land. Desperate to save his family, Wang Lung calls on Ching's guilt to repay his debt. "If you have any food left, for a good heart's sake, give me a handful to save the life of the mother of my sons, and I will forget that I saw you in my house as a robber." (p. 80)
Kharma in the Balance
Ashamed and humbled, Ching confesses that he has saved dried beans so his wife and daughter can die with food in their stomachs. "Some of it I will give to you, and tomorrow go south, if you can. I stay, I and my house. I am older than you and I have no son, and it does not matter whether I live or die." (p. 80) Ching sacrifices his family's last moment of comfort to give Wang Lung's family a morsel of sustenance for their journey.
What fate does The Good Earth hold for Ching? Keep reading—there's more to come!