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Chapter 23

Wang seeks Lotus for advice on the matter regarding his son. Lotus, although disappointed that Wang no longer pays as much attention to her, has taken a liking to the eldest son and is glad to share her information with Wang. She speaks of a rich man, who used to patronize the old tea house, who runs a grain market and has a young daughter. Cuckoo adds to the conversation, confirming the grain dealer's name (Liu) and his riches. Cuckoo is excited to begin the negotiations for the possible marriage, but Wang refuses to rush into the matter and declines Cuckoo's offer, saying he needs to consider it further.
Wang would probably have waited a longer time, but he discovers his eldest son one early morning, inebriated and stumbling through the house after a long evening out. Wang immediately questions the second eldest, who finally reveals that his brother has been out these past days with the son of Wang's uncle. Wang then confronts the son of his uncle who is frightened enough by Wang to reveal that they have been to the house of the whore who lives in the old House of Hwang. Wang is aghast to learn the news, since the whore serves only poor and common men. He heads quickly to this whore's place of business and negotiates a deal with her where she is paid double her fee if she refuses Wang's son if he comes to her again. Finally, on his return, Wang orders Cuckoo to begin negotiating with Liu the grain dealer for her daughter's hand in marriage for his son.
Wang's anger, however, has yet unsubsided, and he storms into his uncle's room and yells angrily that he has been ungrateful and spiteful and that he must leave. His uncle calmly answers that Wang can drive him out if he dares but he will not leave. Wang is baffled at his uncle's confidence and is shocked when his uncle reveals a false beard and red cloth, symbols of a powerful band of robbers, the Redbeards, which had terrorized many families. Wang is terrified, and with no recourse, he is forced to be courteous with his uncle. Sure, Wang's family had never been robbed, but Wang had taken it as a sign of his personal good fortune, never believing that the robbers had stayed away because they were affiliated with his uncle!
While Wang tries to think of ways to resolve his difficult situation, he attempts to be as courteous as possible to his relatives. He considers moving into town and seeking protection from the great city gates, but he concludes that the robbers will still be able to access him and his land. He then considers turning in his uncle to the local magistrate, but he concludes that no one would believe that he would turn in a family member. The bad news continues when Wang learns that while Liu is agreeing to exchange betrothal papers, his daughter is too young to be wed right then, so Wang must wait. Wang is disappointed but he accepts the proposition.
As always, when his worries become too much for Wang, he takes to the fields to be rejuvenated by the good earth. Though the land gives off its healing powers, the worries do not disappear entirely as Wang notices, one day, a peculiar cloud that turns out to be full of locusts. Upon seeing these critters, Wang, unlike his neighbors, refuses to accept fate and fights back to save what he can of his fields. After the cloud passes and wreaks havoc on his land, Wang also refuses to eat the locusts like the others do. However, despite the unfortunate circumstance, Wang realizes that he will not be overwhelmed by the problems but, instead, he will deal with them as best he can. With this attitude, he attends to his matters, and soon, another summer arrives.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter 1
Chapter 2 and 3
Chapter 4 and 5
Chapter 6 and 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10 and 11
Chapter 12 and 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34


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