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The house of Wang is closed, and the family leaves for the South. Wang Lung carries his old father, staggering under his weight. Slowly, they reach the gate of the wall and then they pass the great house, where a few bodies are lying, bemoaning their fate, and cursing the House of Hwang. When they pass through the town, they suddenly find themselves in the midst of a multitude of people. On asking why there are so many people, they are told that everyone is going to catch the 'firewagon' (train) to the South. Wang and his family join them, and with an incessant roaring, the firewagon travels forth towards the South.
This short Chapter shows us the taxing journey, which the family makes to go South. Wang leaves his dear land to search for food and existence. His earlier religious zeal now has diminished, and as he passes the statues of the gods, he doesn't even acknowledge them. It is almost as if he has realized that even the gods can do nothing for him. When the family passes the House of Hwang, it has deteriorated even more. Pathetic men lie outside and curse the family.
Wang Lung's ignorance about the train (firewagon) reveals his isolation as a farmer. He has never cared about learning anything not related to his land. Because of his ignorance of modern things, Wang has an inherent distrust for the train, but decides to travel in it anyway. He has been told it can carry his family out of the village and to the South more rapidly than they can go on foot. The last scene in the chapter shows the village people pressing forward, "Clinging desperately together," in panic and desperation.