Discussion Questions: Pages 1–104
1. Read the first few paragraphs, which discuss the morning of the Wang Lung's wedding day. What do you notice about the writing and the details provided?
2. Talk about your first impressions of the simple life of Wang Lung. Does it seem appealing to you? What specifics about Chinese traditions or culture do you learn early in the novel?
3. How would you describe Wang Lung's attitude towards his wife O-lan? As an arranged marriage, how did you expect their initial union to be?
4. What do you think about the fact that O-lan refuses to have anyone with her during her the birth of her first child? She continues working and rises the day after birth to prepare breakfast. What is your impression of this attitude?
5. Discuss the New Year preparations. What do you find particularly fascinating about them?
6. At the beginning of Chapter Six, it says, "This piece of land which Wang Lung now owned was a thing which greatly changed his life." Talk about how this metaphor for prosperity grows throughout the first 100 pages.
7. What do you think of some of the tangential characters—Wang Lung's father, Uncle, Old Mistress and Uncle's wife? Do you find it curious that none of them have names?
8. Poverty and starvation are depicted in stark terms. What are your feelings about the hardship Wang Lung's family—and province—endured in the middle of this section?
9. In Chapter Nine, Wang Lung cries recklessly, "Oh, you are too wicked, you Old Man in Heaven!" Talk about this in relation to other religious elements in the book so far. What does the Chinese attitude towards religion seem to be?
10. Talk about the family's sojourn away from their land and the injustice of Wang Lung's treatment by those in his society who have more.
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