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Chapter 24

One day, when Wang is under the illusion of peace in the house, his eldest son asks him if he can go south to continue his studies as a scholar in a great school. Wang refuses, saying that he has enough education for their purposes, but the son sullenly declares that he can no longer stay in the house and be treated like a child. Wang is overcome with anger with his spoiled child, with the son reciprocating the hatred for his father, but Wang still refuses. The son no longer attends school, but remains at home, reading in his room.
Wang quickly forgets this matter and minds the harvests, the profits from which he spends readily on Lotus. The years and plentiful food have been good to Lotus, and Wang is still stirred by her. Wang, with Lotus happy and his son content, believes that all is well.
However, one night, O-lan, who has not been fortunate with good health, plods into Wang's room and whispers to him that their eldest son goes often into Lotus' courts when Wang is away. Wang cannot believe his ears, so O-lan challenges him to see for himself by coming home unexpectedly one day. Wang still is disbelieving, saying that O-lan is just jealous, but that night, Lotus pushes him away, complaining that he smells from the hard day's work. Wang leaves abruptly and is determined to see the truth in O-lan's revelation.
The next morning, he takes leave of his men in the fields and after some initial doubts, he makes his way back to his house, angry that Lotus could betray him like this. Once he nears the inner court, he is overwhelmed by anger when he hears his son's voice inside. Quietly, he slips away and strips a reed of bamboo and returns to Lotus' chamber. He enters, but they do not notice until Cuckoo shrieks, and then Wang pounces on his son, beating him until blood runs. Lotus tries to get him to stop, but Wang also beats her. Then he continues to flog his son until Wang is out of breath and demands that the boy head to his room immediately.
Wang sits in Lotus' courts until his anger passes, but he says harshly to her that she is a whore to have gone after his son. Lotus tries to explain that she has done nothing except converse with the young man, but Wang does not care to know anymore. He looks at her and groans that her beauty can make him do things he wishes he did not do. To deal with his son, he tells him to pack and head for the south, and not to return until he is sent for. O-lan is in her room, but Wang does not know her reaction to his actions.

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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