Filial Piety In Mark Twain's The Good Earth

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It’s early twentieth-century China. The vast majority of the citizenry is poor dirt farmers, growing and harvesting a meager living off of the land. Contrary to the general public, a farmer named Wang Lung has managed to rise from dirt to gold, poverty to wealth. When he has sons, however, they end up no longer respecting their elders, no longer farming the land, and no longer honoring the gods or giving them credit for their family’s success. In The Good Earth, Wang Lung’s children are raised in an atmosphere of privilege, leading them away from their family’s traditional values. In their childhood, Lung taught his sons to demonstrate filial piety. Lung instructed them to respect their elders, to not talk poorly of them, and to provide for them first. However, it is clear by the end of the book that the sons do not follow this tradition. Lung’s first son speaks poorly of his teacher, a “wise elder” of the town. Additionally, the third son of Lung disobeys his father by running away to join the army rather than become a farmer. Filial piety also demands that sons look after their father, which is what Lung had done for his father the first half of the book.…show more content…
Both Lung and his father show respect to the gods throughout the story. Every new year, Lung’s father made new red clothes for the statues of the earth gods, and Lung would burn incense to the gods. On the other hand, Lung’s sons never mention nor demonstrate reverence for the gods in any way. They boast about their fortune and take it for granted, but they do not credit and do not thank the gods for allowing them to reach such a high position. They are consumed with the things of this earth, things far off and lofty rather than simple matters like food. The first son is busy with the leadership of the town, the second with the markets, and the third with the war, but none of them with the gods in their own
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