Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
Wang's troubles with his uncle are described in this chapter. When Wang Lung comes upon his uncle's daughter running about the village street and brazenly talking to boys, he goes to her family's house and shouts at his uncle's wife. In turn, she loosens her tongue at Wang and curses her husband's ill luck and destiny. The next day, his uncle comes to him, praising Wang's prosperity and begging for a loan for his daughter's dowry. Goaded to anger, Wang Lung cannot contain himself and shouts at his uncle, saying that he himself is rich because he has worked for it; he accuses his uncle of being lazy. Hearing this, the uncle slaps him and reminds him that their culture does not allow such rudeness to an elder. Wang Lung, to silence him, hands over some silver to his uncle.
As a result of the trouble with his uncle, Wang Lung has a foreboding that evil has come into his life. When O-Lan gives birth to their third child, he is disappointed that it is a girl; he is now more convinced than ever that a period of misfortune has begun for him. The crows flying over his house at the end of the chapter are a further foreshadowing of evil.
Wang's Uncle takes advantage of his nephew by reminding him of family duty. At first Wang responds negatively to the request, accusing his uncle of laziness. The uncle then slaps Wang for his rudeness and reminds him that in China disrespect for elders is not allowed. In the end, Wang feels obliged to lend his uncle money. It hurts Wang to do so, because his hard-earned silver, which he is saving to buy more land, will now be used foolishly by his uncle, most likely for gambling. As a result of the encounter with his uncle, Wang senses that evil has entered his house. His superstition seems to be proven right when O-Lan gives birth to a child, who seems to be a part of Wang's misfortune. The sense of evil is further heightened when Wang sees a flock of black crows flying over his house. Though he tries to shoo them away, they whirl over him, cawing loudly, as if mocking him. They appear to be an evil omen.
In this chapter, more Chinese traditions are revealed. Wang is expected to help his uncle simply because he is a blood relation. It makes no difference that Wang has worked hard to earn his money, while his uncle has been unproductive. When Wang is angry enough to remind his uncle of this, his uncle slaps him. He also reminds his nephew that elders are always to be respected, another strong Chinese tradition.