Plot Points in The Good Earth
Through all of this, it seems clear that O-lan's life does hold many lessons. Her handling of the pearl's themselves, as with so many other moments throughout the novel, begets her ultimate wisdom. O-lan is a woman who does not apologize for who she is, but instead makes the most of her circumstances. When she marries a man who loves the land, she too loves the land. When she is expected to work hard and place the needs of her family above all else, she does this stoically and gracefully. When she withers with cancer, she soldiers on until she's finally given permission to die peacefully. In the end, she shows that she has shared Wang Lung's dream all along. When Wang Lung claims he would sell all of his land to bring her back to health, she says, "No, and I would not—let you. For I must die—sometime anyway. But the land is there after me." (p. 256)
It seems, in the eyes of the author, that O-lan represents the best China has to offer—a society in which some members truly shine in the role they were born to play. O-lan's resilience—even in the face of every oppression—is inspiring. It is also a reminder of the hard-won promise of a purposeful life well lived.