The Good Earth: Novel Summary: Chapter 32-34
After the soldiers leave, Wang Lung and his sons arrange for the courts to be cleaned and restored to their former splendor, following the mess created by the soldiers.
The wife of Wang Lung's uncle dies.
Wang Lung arranges for Pear Blossom to be married to one of his laborers.
Wang Lung is now sixty-five years old, but he is still not at peace. The latest trouble is a continuing fierce quarrel between the wife of his eldest son and the wife of the second son. The eldest and the second son continue to dislike each other also, and Lotus becomes dissatisfied with her maid. In addition, Wang Lung's youngest son, having listened to the soldiers' tales of war, says he want to become a soldier, too. Wang Lung is horrified, and tells the boy he will find him a wife. But the boy claims not to want to marry, and further upsets his father by saying that the only woman he would want would be Pear Blossom, whom Wang Lung himself is very fond of.
Wang Lung decides to take Pear Blossom as his own mistress. Lotus is angry when she finds out, and demands some gifts from Wang Lung to appease her. She also says that he is not to come to her for a while. Wang Lung buys her what she wants, and is quite pleased that he does not have to visit her soon. But he is a bit ashamed of his affair with Pear Blossom and tries to justify it to himself. He is nervous of what his sons will think, but it turns out that his second son says nothing about it, and his eldest son secretly envies him. Wang Lung then becomes proud of himself for having done what he wanted to do. But the youngest son, who had expressed an interest in Pear Blossom, disappears from the house when he learns that she has become his father's mistress. No one knows where he has gone.
Wang Lung's passion for Pear Blossom soon fades, changing into an affectionate, father-daughter kind of relationship. Wang Lung lives more and more on his own, except for Pear Blossom and his mentally retarded daughter, whom he refers to his "poor fool." He regards his life as mostly over, and his family continues to flourish. He now has eleven grandsons and eight granddaughters.
Sometimes Wang Lung visits his land and feels his connection to it, as of old. He decides to live out the remainder of his days in the house on his land. He moves there with Pear Blossom, the fool, and some servants, leaving the house in the town to his family.
In the fall, his first two sons visit him, and he overhears them talking about their plan to sell the land after his death. He is angry with them, and they quickly try to reassure him that they will never sell the land, but they have no intention to keeping this promise.
As Wang Lung grew older and more and more prosperous, he struggled to maintain the values that he grew up with. But in the final chapters, he reasserts his deep connection to the land. For him, this is a tie that can never be broken. But that is not so for his sons. Not having been brought up working on the land, they do not value it, and plan to sell it. So after Wang Lung dies, the link between the land and the family will die with him. The message seems to be that the family runs the risk of ending up like the old House of Hwang, because wealth has a habit of making people forget what produced it in the first place. Wang Lung explains this to his sons ("It is the end of a family-when they begin to sell the land"), but they are in no mood to listen.